Skip to main content

Full text of "Lives of fair and gallant ladies"

See other formats








a^a Oat/Lewi 


G/olt ana OaM/atvt 




, <jnc. 

cix>naon ana c/CcMJ /jotic 



This work is strictly limited to twelve 
hundred and fifty numbered sets, which are 
for sale only to subscribers. The type has 
been distributed on publication and no more 
will be printed. 

Copy No. 



THIS very fine and accurate translation of The Lives of Fair 
and Gallant Ladies was made by Mr. A. R. Allinson and 
because of its merit must be considered one of the great Eng- 
lish translations, equalling in every quality those of the 16th 
and 17th centuries. The text of Brantome's great work is 
given practically complete in these volumes and the only modi- 
fications are based upon good taste and not on any fearful 
prudery. A few of Brantome's examples that illustrate his 
points belong more in a treatise on abnormal pathology than 
in a book of literary or historical interest and value, so nothing 
of any value isi lost by omitting them. The rare charm, 
shrewd wisdom, amusing anecdote, literary merit and histori- 
cal and social information will be appreciated by intelligent 

The cover design used on this book was made by C. O. 


i B 


A V sJ 

., , Jttti<fttej d( CC4 dittoes Jlo,n ailtcf JMlonfatCHftrcj pnrtt* 

* \ * *J+ *r 

\ v r Hr"? att ^ fe \ v *" ***** M teftpetCt* 

d K V ft*" 1 " ***!*** f M ^ l "*"/^w ^f AWMMI ^/t, 

^> V ^ Ovfutti tfhr (u&h. en pf+ftfli*, tCfrctfrrprc* *fc 

H *' * *> 4 ' // ^if 

f.til'f J,yintt^ tt'itif ati'lffUYtllutv n#r &JtHt f ft 

l~ *~ * / *^ *y ^ L - ; 


$\?\'* / ' ' rpftHt ft'" *U & v*f Jf flAwm (Vcf en Jif thief 

Fvi! X ^" ^ 7 / / " i .^ t 

x\;\> ^ x ^ r^<.f icrc\ *V*p* tvnr**t>Y iC.Jtt9tt fa S ^(&/<wt- 
l X k Af.iirt .icci wla JAMH ft fan f tome? ft i-t(hcmefti~~ 

\ k ^ {*"$**"*** p**** ^*J*>*k -JM 's*y *"j J"v . 

\^^C^ /menus L&ivh-vfci met Cn^f^fttmj 4mfm jut *ntjr 


\ - 

^ /menus L&ivh-vfci met Cn^f^fttmj 4mfm jut *ntjr 

.XYs. > Jeuifionf Ci> fan$i 4inC\ &} JVMSftttf niirujt *H*Jt 

v\ l^ ^ // * '.l/ t "C' M. 

^. \>^ jfipt u\$yt tG&iithcu HHtti efrc JU*x linccu(x 

^ A* 11 * 1* > ^ ****** k bvJ 

V ^ <^\^ .fa**** fan 
\ (K ^\\^6/ " i 
\ ^ V^s,^ 1 ^*' 4* "' 

* vwtf 




^ ^ 1^ j*rn<k t*> tv 

V $-J"$ * n bctu 



' ~ 'Ztt 

x. VH*tn W>r iflc prtf far JM& 
^* f' 



(From a fac-simile page of the manuscript 

Recueil des Dames. Biblio. Nat: Mss. Nouv. fses. 

No. 20-474, folio 163.) 






EEING how you have full often done me the 
honour at Court to converse with me in great 
privity of sundry jests and merry tales, the 
which are so familiar and ready with you 
they may well be said to grow apace before men's very 
eyes in your Lordship's mouth, so great your wit is and 
so keen and subtile, and your speech the same, and right 
eloquent to boot, for this cause have I set me to indite 
these discourses, such as they be, to the best of my poor 
ability, to the end that in this wise some of them may 
please you, making the time to pass lightly and reminding 
you of me in your conversations, wherewith erstwhile 
you have honoured me as much as any gentleman of all 
the Court. 

To you then, my Lord, do I dedicate this present book, 
and do beseech you fortify the same with your name and 
authority, till that I may find leisure to attend to dis- 
courses of a more serious content. Of such I pray you 
note one in especial, the which I have all but finished, 




wherein I do deduce a comparison of six great Princes 
and Captains that be to-day abroad in this our Christen- 
dom, to wit: the King Henri III. your brother, Your 
Highness' self, the King of Navarre your brother-in-law, 
the Due de Guise, the Due de Maine, and the Prince of 
Parma, making record for each one of you of your noblest 
deeds of valour and high emprize, of your excellencies and 
exploits, the full tale and complement whereof I do re- 
sign to others better qualified than I to indite the same. 

Meanwhile, My Lord, I do beseech God to bless you 
always more and more in your greatness, happiness and 

And I am for all time 

Your very humble and very obedient subject and very 
loving servant. 






I had already dedicated this second Part of my Dis- 
courses on Women to the aforesaid my Gracious Lord 
d'Alen9on, the while he yet lived, seeing how he oft did 
me the honour to be my friend and to converse very 
privily with me, and was ever right curious to be informed 
of mirthful tales. Wherefore, albeit his generous and 
valorous and most noble body hath fallen on the field of 
honour, I have not thought good for that to recall my 
erstwhile dedication ; but I do repeat and renew the same 
to his illustrious ashes and noble spirit, of the valorous- 
ness whereof and of his great deeds and high achievements 
I do treat in their turn among those of the other great 
Princes and Captains. For of a truth he was indeed a 
great Prince and a great Captain, if such an one there 
was ever, the more so considering he is dead so un- 

Enough of such serious themes; let us discourse a 
while of merrier matters. 




















NOTES .... , 355 


tome et d'Andre, Vicomte de Bourdeille, was 
born in Perigord, in 1527, in the reign of 
Fra^ois I. He early took up the career of 
arms, serving under his friend Fra^ois de Guise, Duke 
of Lorraine, as his Captain, the same who was killed 
before Orleans by Poltrot de Mere. Afterwards he came 
up to Court, and was Gentleman of the Bedchamber un- 
der Charles IX., who showed him much favour. On the 
King's death he retired to his estates, where he composed 
his Works. These are: Vies des hommes Ulustres et des 
grands capitaines francois; Vies des grands capitaines 
Strangers; Vies des dames Ulustres; Vies des dames 
galantes; Anecdotes touchant le duel; and Rodomontades 
et jurements des Espagnols. All that really concerns us 
here is the Vies des dames galantes. It is especially from 
this point of view that we propose to speak of Pierre de 
Bourdeille, known almost exclusively to posterity under 
the name of Brantome. As to his Essays in the manner 
of Plutarch, these do not come into our purview at all. 
Besides which, I am of opinion, it is in this book that 
Brantome appears under his most characteristic aspect, 
and that it is here we may best learn to know and ap- 
preciate his genius. 




A gentleman of family, acknowledged and treated as 
kinsman by Queen Margot, wife of Henry IV., living 
habitually in the society of the most famous men of his 
time, a contemporary of Rabelais, Marot and Ronsard, 
a sincere but unbigoted Catholic, a man of exceptional 
literary endowments, Brantome is one of the happiest 
representatives of the French mind in the XVIth Century. 

It is the period of the Renaissance, the days when 
Europe resounds with the fame of our gallant King 
Francis I. and his deeds of prowess in love and war, 
the days when Titian and Primaticcio were leaving be- 
hind on French palace walls immortal traces of their 
genius, when Jean Goujon was carving his admirable 
figures round the fountains of the Louvre and across its 
front, when Rabelais was uttering his stupendous guffaw, 
that was the Comedy of all human life, when Marot and 
Ronsard were writing their graceful stanzas, when the 
fair "Marguerite des Marguerites," the Queenly Pearl 
of Pearls, was telling her delightful tales of love and 
adventure in the Heptameron. Then comes the death of 
Francis I. His son mounts the throne. Protestantism 
makes serious progress in France, and Montgomery pre- 
cipitates the succession of Francis II. This last wears 
the crown for one year only, succumbing to a fatal in- 
flammation of the ears. Then it is Mary Stuart leaves 
France for ever, and with streaming eyes, as she watches 
the beloved shores where she has been Queen of France 
fade out of sight, sings sad and slow : 

Adieu, plaisant pays de France ! 

And now we find seated on the throne of France a 
young Monarch of a strange, wild, unattractive exterior. 



His eye is pale, colourless and shifty, seeming to be void 
of all expression. He trusts no man, and has no real 
assurance of his power as Sovereign; he looks long and 
suspiciously at those about him before speaking, rarely 
bestows his confidence and believes himself constantly 
surrounded by spies. 'Tis a nervous, timid child, 'tis 
Charles IX. History treats him with an extreme severity ; 
and the "St. Bartholomew" has thrown a lurid light over 
this unhappy Prince's figure. He allowed the massacres 
on the fatal nights of the 24th and 25th of August, and 
even shot down the flying Protestants from his palace 
roof. Without going into the interminable discussions 
of historians as to this last alleged fact, which is as 
strongly denied by some authorities as it is maintained 
by others, I am not one of those who say hard things 
of Charles IX. It is more a sentiment of pity I feel 
for him, this monarch who loved Brantome and Marot, 
and who protected Henri IV. against Catherine de Medici. 
I see him surrounded by brothers whom he had learned 
to distrust. The Due d'Alen9on is on the spot, a legiti- 
mate object of detestation by reason of the subterranean 
intrigues he is for ever hatching against his person ; while 
his other brother Henri (afterwards Henri III.), Cath- 
erine's favourite son, is in Poland, kept sedulously in- 
formed of every variation in the Prince's always feeble 
health, waiting impatiently for the hour when he must 
hurry back to France to secure the crown he covets. 
Then his sister's vicious outbreaks are a source of con- 
stant pain and anxiety to him; and last but not least 
there is his mother Catherine de Medici, an incubus that 
crushed out his very life-breath. He cannot forget the 
tortures his brother Francis suffered from his mysteri- 



ous malady, and his premature death after a single year's 

Catherine hated Mary Stuart, his young Queen, whose 
only fault was to have exaggerated in herself all the 
frailties together with all the physical perfections of a 
woman; and dreadful words had been whispered with 
bated breath about the Queen Mother. An Italian, de- 
prived of all power while her husband lived, insulted by a 
proud and beautiful favourite, yet knowing herself well 
fitted for command, she had brought up her children with 
ideas of respect and submission to her will they were 
never able to throw off. The ill-will she bore her daugh- 
ter-in-law was the cause of all those accusations History 
has listened to over readily. But Charles, a nervous, 
affectionate child, whose natural impulses however had 
been chilled by his mother's influence and the indifference 
of his father Henri II., was thrown back on himself, and 
grew up timid, suspicious and morose. The frantic love 
of Francis for his fascinating Queen, the cold dignity of 
Catherine in face of slights and cruel mortifications, her 
bitter disappointment during her eldest son's reign, her 
Italian origin (held then even more than now to imply 
an implacable determination to avenge all injuries), her 
indifference to the sudden and appalling death of the 
young King, the insinuations of her enemies, all com- 
bined to make a profound impression on Charles, giving 
a furtive and, if we may say so, a haggard bent to his 
character. Presently, seated on the throne of France, 
Huguenots and Catholics all about him, exposed to the 
insults and pretensions of the Guise faction on the one 
hand and that of Coligny on the other, dragged now this 
way now that between the two, yet all the while instinct- 





ively drawn toward the Catholic side by ancestral faith 
and his mother's counsels no less than by reasons of 
state, Charles signed the fatal order authorizing the 
Massacre of the Saint Bartholomew. 

Was the young King's action justifiable or no? It is 
no business of ours to discuss the question here; but 
much may be alleged in his excuse. Again whether he 
did actually fire on the terrified Protestants from the 
Louvre is a point vehemently debated, but one it in 
no way concerns us here to decide. There is no doubt 
however that, dating from those two terrible nights, a 
steady decline declared itself in his health and vitality. 
In no long time he died; and his brother Henri, Duke 
of Anjou and King of Poland, duly warned of his ap- 
proaching end, arrived in hot haste to take over the 
crown to which he was next in succession. 

This period of political and religious ferment was no 
less the period par excellence of gallantry. In its char- 
acteristics it bears considerable resemblance to the days 
of the Empire. At both epochs love was quick, fierce and 
violent. Hurry was the mark of the times. In the midst 
of these everlasting struggles between Huguenot and 
Catholic, who could be sure of to-morrow? So men made 
it a point to indulge no attachment that was too serious, 
for them love was become a mere question of choice and 
quantity; while women avoided a grand passion with a 
fervour worthy of a better cause. If ever a deep and 
earnest passion does show itself, it is an exception, an 
anomaly; if we find a woman stabbing her faithless hus- 
band to death on catching him in the arms of another, 
let us not for an instant suppose 'tis the fierce stirring 



of a loving heart which in the frenzy of its jealousy 
avenges the wrong it has suffered, to die presently of 
sorrow and remorse, or at the least to suffer long and 
sorely. This act of daring, so carefully recorded by 
the chroniclers of the time, is only the effect of strong 
self-love cruelly wounded. But powerful as this feeling 
may be, it would scarcely be adequate to explain so 
energetic an act, if we did not remember how frequently 
ladies in the XVIth Century were exposed to scenes of 
bloodshed. The dagger and the sword were as familiar 
to their eyes as the needle; and Brantome has devoted a 
whole Discourse, his Fifth, to courageous dames, and 
seems positively to scorn weak and timid women! How 
opposite is this to the sentiment of the present day, 
where one of the charms of womanhood is held to consist 
in her having nothing in common with man and being 
for ever in need of his protection. A few isolated cases 
then excepted, there existed between men and women noth- 
ing better than what Chamfort has wittily defined as 
"1'echange de deux fantaisies et le contact de deux epi- 
dermes," in other words gallantry pure and simple. 

This then was the atmosphere our Author breathed. 
His life offers nothing specially striking in the way of 
incident. No need for me to take him from the arms of 
his nurse, to follow each of his steps through life and 
piously close his eyes in death. He served his time with- 
out special distinction or applause at the Court of 
Charles IX. In all he did, he showed so modest a reserve 
that, but for his Works, his very existence would have 
remained unknown. He is not like Bussy-Rabutin, the 
incidents of whose wild and wicked life filled and defaced 
a big book, or like Tallemant, whose diary, if diary it 




can be called, was written day by day and recounted 
each day's exploits. Brantome's life and work leave little 
trace of his own personality, beyond the impression of a 
genial, smiling, witty ' man of the world. I will be as 
plain and discreet as himself, and will make no effort to 
separate the Author from his book. 

Brantome possesses one of those happy, gentle, well 
ordered natures, which systematically avoid every form 
of excess and exaggeration. His book Des Dames 
Galantes is from beginning to end a protest against im- 
moderate passion. It is above all a work of taste. Its 
seven Discourses are devoted exclusively to stories of love 
and passion, yet a man must be straightlaced indeed to 
feel any sort of repulsion. Another extraordinary merit! 
in spite of the monotony of the subject matter, everlast- 
ingly the same, the reader's attention never flags, and 
one tale read, he is irresistibly drawn on to make acquain- 
tance with the next. 

Such praise, I am aware, is very high; and especially 
when we possess such masterpieces in this genre as the 
Tales of Boccaccio, of Pietro Aretino, some of those of 
Ariosto, those of Voltaire, the short stories of Tallemant 
des Reaux and the indiscretions of the Histoire amoureuse 
des Gaules. I name only the most familiar examples. Of 
course all these works do not offer a complete resemblance 
to the Vies des Dames Galantes, but they all belong to 
the same race and family. I propose to say a few passing 
words of each of these productions. 

The most remarkable among all these chroniclers of 
the frailties of the female heart is undoubtedly Boccaccio. 
Pietro Aretino has done himself an irreparable wrong by 
writing in such a vein that no decent man dare confess 





to having read him. Ariosto is a story-teller only by the 
way, but then he is worthy of all imitation. The Hepta- 
meron is a collection of stories the chief value of which 
consists in a sensibility and charming grace that never 
fail. Tallemant tells a tale of gallantry between two 
daintily worded sentiments. Voltaire in this as in all 
departments shows an incontestable superiority of wit 
and verve. There is nothing new in La Fontaine; 'tis 
always the same wondrous charm, so simple in appear- 
ance, so deep in reality. As to Bussy, a man of the 
world and a gentleman, but vicious, spiteful and envious, 
his Histoire amoureuse is his revenge on mankind, a de- 
liberate publication of extravagant personalities flav- 
oured with wit. 

Boccaccio, to say nothing of his striking originality, 
possesses other merits of the very highest order. The 
sorrows of unhappy love are told with genuine pathos, 
while lovers' wiles and the punishments they meet with 
at once raise a smile and provoke a resolve to profit by 
such valuable lessons. True Dioneo's quaint narratives 
are not precisely fit for ladies' ears; yet so daintily are 
they recounted, the most risque episodes so cleverly 
sketched in, it is impossible to accuse them of indelicacy. 
An entire absence of bitterness, a genial indulgence for 
human weakness, a hearty admiration of women and a 
doctrine of genial complaisance as the only possible 
philosophy of life, these are the qualities that make the 
Decameron the masterpiece of this kind of composition. 

Brantome has not the same preponderating influence 
in literature that Boccaccio possesses, but he comes next 
after him. The "Lives of Gallant Ladies" are not, any 
more than the Novelli, inventions pure and simple; they 


ffiir/Mr/frr^- :.v^yArwttr(^^ 


are anecdotes, reminiscences. The great merit of these 
Tales of Boccaccio is the same as that of Balzac's Novels 
or Moliere's Comedies, to fix a character, to define a 
phase of manners in the life of the Author's day; in a 
word to create by induction and analogy a living being, 
hitherto unnoticed by every-day observers, but instantly 
recognized as lifelike. This is the true spirit of assimila- 
tion and generalisation, the work of genius. Well! as 
for Brantome, he is a man of talent and wit, not genius. 
We claim no more; genius is not so common as might be 
supposed, if we hearkened to all the acclamations daily 
raised round sundry statues, but plaster after all, how- 
ever cunningly contrived to look like bronze. 

Brantome's fame is already firmly established. To live 
for two centuries and a half without boring his readers; 
above all to be a book that scholars, men of sober learn- 
ing and of literary taste, still read in these latter days, 
is a success worthy of some earnest thought. This 
chronicle of gallantry, this collection, as the Author him- 
self describes it, of happy tricks played on each other 
by men and women, possesses a quite exquisite flavour 
of youth and freshness, the whole told with a good- 
nature, a verve, an unconventionality, that are inexpres- 
sibly charming. You feel the characters living and 
breathing through the delicate, pliant style. You see the 
very glance of a woman's eye; you hear her ardent, or 
cunningly alluring, words. For such as can read with a 
heart unstirred, the book is a series of delicious surprises. 
Strong predispositions, nay ! positive prejudices, stand 
in the way of the proper appreciation of our Author. 
Such is the Puritanism of language and prudery of man- 
ners in our day, it would seem prima facie an impossible 





task to popularize Brantome. By common agreement we 
speak of the esprit franfais as distinguished from the 
esprit gaulois, the latter term being used to denote a 
something more frank and outspoken. I heartily wish 
the division were a true one ; for I can never forget I 
belong to this mighty Nineteenth Century. But for my 
own part, on a careful consideration of the facts, I 
should make a triple rather than a twofold classification. 
There would be the esprit gaulois, the esprit franfais, not 
the spirit of the age one atom, I must be allowed to ob- 
serve, and thirdly a certain spirit of curling-irons and 
kid gloves and varnished boots, a sort of bastard, a cross 
between French and English, equally shocked at Tristram 
Shandy and the Physiologie du Mariage as coarse and 
immoral productions. This is our spirit, if spirit we 

The two first types have a real and positive value; 
but the third is the sole and only one nowadays per- 
mitted or current as legal tender, the others are much 
too outspoken. Well! I will hold my tongue, and mind 
my own business. An epoch is a mighty ugly customer 
to come to blows with. I remember Him of Galilee. 

The genius of Rabelais was all instinct with this same 
esprit gaulois a big, bold, virile spirit, breaking out in 
resounding guffaws, and crude, outspoken verities, 
equally unable and unwilling to soften down or gloss 
over anything, innocent of every species of periphrasis 
and affectation. It is genius in a merry mood rising 
above the petty conventionalities of speech, often re- 
minding us of Moliere under like circumstances. Let 
fools be shocked, if they please ; sensible men are ashamed 
only in presence of positive immorality and deliberate 





vice. The esprit gaulois is the spirit of primitive man 
going straight to its end, regardless of fetter or law. 
The esprit franpais is equally natural; but then it has 
acquired a certain degree of civilisation. It has less 
width of scope; it has learned the little concessions men 
are bound to make one another, having associated longer 
with them. It has left hodden grey, and taken to the 
silken doublet and cap of velvet, and rubs elbows with 
men of rank. It has lost nothing of its good sense and 
good temper; but it feels no longer bound in every case 
to blurt its thought right out; already it leaves some- 
thing to be guessed at. It is all a question of civilisation 
and surroundings. But above and beyond this, it must 
be allowed to be conditioned by the essential distinction 
between genius and talent. The former does what it likes, 
'tis lord and master; the latter is, by its very nature, a 
creature of compromise. 

Brantome possesses all the verve and brightness of a 
genuine Frenchman. All the conditions of life are highly 
favourable for him ; he is rich and noble, while intelligence 
and wit are stamped on his very face. He wins his first 
spurs under Fra^ois de Guise, whose protege he is ; when 
he has had enough of war, he comes to Court. There he 
receives the most flattering of receptions, every Catholic 
Noble extending him the hand of good fellowship. His 
family connections are such, that on the very steps of the 
throne is a voice ready to call him cousin, and a charm- 
ing woman's lips to smile on him with favour. 'Tis a 
good start ; henceforth it is for his moral and intellectual 
qualities to achieve the career so auspiciously begun. 

As I have said already, Brantome is the finished type 
of a Frenchman of quality. Well taught and witty, brave 




and enterprising, capable of appreciating honesty and 
worth whether in thought or deed, instinctively hating 
tyrants and tyrannical violence, and avoiding them like 
the plague, blessing the happy day on which his mother 
gave him birth, light-hearted and sceptical, he unites in 
himself everything that makes life go easy. Be sure no 
over-bearing passion will ever disturb the serenity of his 
existence. He has too much good sense to let his happi- 
ness depend on the chimerical figments of the imagination, 
and too much real courtesy ever to reproach a woman 
with her frailties. The world and all its ways seem good 
to him. In very truth, he is not far from Pangloss's 
conclusion, Pangloss, the perfect type of what a man 
must be so as never to suffer, "Well ! well ! all is for the 
best in this best of possible worlds." If woman deceive, 
she offers so many compensations in other ways that 'tis 
a hundred times better to have her as she is than not at 
all. Men are sinners; again most true, as an abstract 
proposition, but if only we know how to regulate our 
conduct judiciously, their sinful spite will never touch 
us. Easy to see how, with this bent of character and 
these convictions, Brantome was certain to find friendly 
faces wherever he went. The favourable impression his 
person and position had produced, his good sense com- 

The King took delight in the society of this finished 
gentleman with his easy and agreeable manners. In the 
midst of the numberless vexations he was surrounded by, 
one of his greatest distractions was the gay, lively con- 
versation of this noble lord, from whom he had nothing 
to fear in the way of hostile speech or angry words. The 
Due d'Alen9on was another intimate, who putting aside 





for a moment his schemes of ambition, would hear and 
tell tales of love and intrigue, laughing the louder in pro- 
portion to the audacity and success of the trick played 
by the heroine. And so it was with all; the result being 
that Brantome quickly acquired the repute of being the 
wittiest man in France. All men and all parties were on 
friendly terms with him. The Huguenots forgot he was 
a Catholic, and made an ally of him. Without religious 
fanaticism or personal ambition, honoured and sought 
after by the great, yet quite unspoiled and always simple- 
hearted and good-natured, equally free from prejudice 
and pride, he conciliated the good will of all. Through- 
out the whole of Brantome's career, we never hear of his 
making a single enemy; and be it remembered he lived 
in the very hottest of the storm and stress, political and 
religious, of the Sixteenth Century. Let us add to com- 
plete our characterisation, a quite incalculable merit, 
a discretion such as cannot be found even in the annals 
of Chivalry, a period indeed when lovers were only too 
fond of making a show of their ladies' favours. This is 
the one and only point where Brantome is inconsistent 
with the true French type of character, mostly as eager 
to declare the fair inamorata's name as to appreciate the 
proofs of love she may have given. 

Francis I. is but just dead, we must remember. His 
reign has been called the Renaissance, and not without 
good reason. Under him begins that light, graceful bear- 
ing, that elegance of manner, that politeness of address, 
which henceforth will make continuous advances to 
greater and greater refinement. Rabelais is the last ex- 
pression of that old, unsoftened and unmitigated French 
speech, from which at a later date Matthieu Regnier will 




ocasionally borrow one of his picturesque phrases. In 
the same reign costume first becomes dainty. Men's 
minds grow finical like their dress ; and a new mode of 
expression was imperatively required to match the new 
elegance of living. The change was effected almost with- 
out effort; 'twas a mere question of external sensibility. 
The body, now habituated to silk and velvet, grows more 
sensitive and delicate, and intellect and language follow 
suit. The correspondence was inevitable. So much for 
the mental revolution. As for the moral side, manners 
gained in frankness no doubt; but otherwise things were 
neither better nor worse than before. It has always 
seemed to us a strange proceeding, to take a particular 
period of History, as writers so often will, and declare, 
'At this epoch morals were more relaxed than ever before 
or since.' 

Now under Francis L, and by his example, manners 
acquired a happy freedom, an unstudied ease, his Cour- 
tiers were sure to turn to good advantage. A King is 
always king of the fashion. Judging by the two cele- 
brated lines * he wrote one day on a pane in one of the 
windows at the Castle of Chambord, Francis I., a Prince 
of wit and a true Frenchman, could discover no better 
way of punishing women for their fickleness and frivolity 
than that of copying their example. Every pretty 
woman stirred a longing to possess in the ample and 
facile heart of this Royal Don Juan. They were easy 
and happy loves, without remorse and without bitter- 
ness, and never deformed with tears. So far did he push 
his rights as a Sovereign, that there is said to have been 
at least one instance of rivalry between him and his own 




son. He died, as he had lived, a lover, and a victim to 

Under Henri II., Diane de Poitiers is the most prom- 
inent figure on the stage ; following the gallant leadership 
of the King's mistress, the Court continues the same mode 
of life and type of manners which distinguished the pre- 
ceding reign. 

Of the reign of Francis II., we need only speak en 
passant. During the short while he and Mary Stuart 
were exhausting the joys of a brief married life, there 
was no time for further change. 

But now we come to a far more noteworthy and impor- 
tant period. While the Queen Mother and the Guises are 
silently preparing their coup d'etat; while the Hugue- 
nots, light-hearted and unsuspecting, are dancing and 
making merry in the halls of the Louvre; while Catholics 
join them in merry feasts at the taverns then in vogue, 
and ladies allow no party spirit to intrude in their love 
affairs; while the Pre-aux-Clercs is the meeting-ground 
where men of honour settle their quarrels, and the happy 
man, the man who receives the most caressing marks of 
female favour, is he that has killed most, at a time like 
this the wits are keen and the spirit as reckless as the 
courage. With such a code of morals it was a difficult 
matter for any serious sentiment to survive. Women soon 
began to feel the same scorn of life that men professed. 
The strongest were falling day by day, and emotion and 
sensibility could not but be blunted. Then think of the 
crowd of eager candidates to seize the vacant reins of 
Government, and the steeple-chase existence of those days 
becomes intelligible and even excusable. 

In all this movement Brantome was necessarily in- 


volved, but he kept invariably in the back-ground, in 
a convenient semi-obscurity. But we must by no means 
assume that this prudence on the Vicomte de Bourdeille's 
part proceeded from any lack of energy; this would be 
doing him a quite undeserved injustice. He had given 
proofs of his courage; and Abbe as he was, his sword on 
hip spoke as proudly as the most doughty ruffler's. But 
a man of peace, he avoided provoking quarrels; he was 
a good Catholic, and Religion has always discountenanced 
the shedding of blood. 

The best proof of the position he was able to win at 
Court is this Book of Fair and Gallant Ladies which has 
come down to us as its result. Amid all the gay and 
boisterous fetes of the time, and the thousand lights of 
the Louvre, men and women both smiled graciously on 
our Author. His perfect discretion was perhaps his chief 
merit in the eyes of all these love-sick swains and garru- 
lous young noodles. The instant a lover received an 
assignation from his fair one, his joy ran over in noisy 
fanfaronnades. A happy man is brim full of good-fellow- 
ship, and eager for a confidant. Well ! if at that moment 
the gallant Abbe chanced to pass, what more natural than 
for the fortunate gentleman to seize and buttonhole him? 
Then he would recount his incomparable good fortune, 
adding a hundred piquant details, and drunk with his 
own babbling, enumerate one after the other the most 
minute particulars of his intrigue, ending by letting out 
the name of the husband at whose expense he had been 
enjoying himself. Love is so simple-minded and so 
charmingly selfish! Every lover seriously thinks each 
casual acquaintance must of course sympathise actively 
in his feelings. A bosom friend he must have ! no matter 





who, if only he can tell him, always of course under 
formal promise of concealment, the secret he should have 
kept locked in his own bosom. Nor should we look over 
harshly on this weakness; too much happiness, no less 
than too much unhappiness, will stifle the bosom that 
cannot throw off any of its load upon another. 'Tis the 
world-old story of the reeds and the secret that must be 
told. Self -expansion is a natural craving; without it, 
men grow misanthropes and die of an aneurism of the 

This brings us to the book of the Dames galantes. 
When eventually he retired to his estates, Brantome took 
up the pen as a relief to his ennui. Among all the works 
he composed, this one must certainly have pleased him 
best, because it so exactly corresponds with his own 
character and ways of thought. But to write these lives 
of Gallant Ladies was an enterprise not without its 
dangers. A volume of anecdotes of the sort cannot be 
written without there being considerable risk in the pro- 
cess of falling into the coarse and commonplace vulgari- 
ties that surround such a subject. Style, wit, philosophy, 
gaiety, all in a degree seldom met with, were indispensable 
for success; yet Brantome has succeeded. This book, of 
the Vies des Dames galantes, offers a close analogy with 
another celebrated study in the same genre, viz., Balzac's 
Physiologic du mariage. Both works deal with the same 
subject, the ways and wiles of women, married, widow and 
maid, under the varying conditions of, (1) the Sixteenth 
Century, and (2) the Present Day. But the mode of 
treatment is different; an this difference made Bran- 
tome's task a harder one than the modern Author's. His 
short stories of a dozen lines, each revealing woman in 



one of those secret and confidential situations only open 
to the eye of husband or lover, might easily be displeas- 
ing, or worse still tiresome. Brantome has avoided all 
these shoals and shallows. Each little tale has its own 
interest, always fresh and bright. 

Moreover a lofty morality runs through the narra- 
tives. At first sight the word morality may seem a joke 
applied to such matters ; but it is easy to disconcert the 
scoffer merely by asking him to read our Author. To 
support my contention, there is no need to quote any 
particular story or stories; all alike have their charm, 
and the work must be perused in its entirety to appreciate 
the truth of the high praise I give it. Every reader, 
on finally closing the book, cannot but feel a genuine 
enthusiasm. The delicate wit of the whole recital passes 
imagination. On every page we meet some physical trait 
or some moral remark that rivets the attention. The 
author puts his hand on some curiosity or perversity, 
and instantly stops to examine it ; while at the same time 
the propriety of his tone allures the most sedate reader. 
The discussion of each point, in which the pros and cons 
are always balanced one against the other in the wittiest 
and most thorough manner, is interesting to the highest 
degree. In one word the book is a code and compendium 
of Love. All is classified, studied, analysed; each argu- 
ment is supported by an appropriate anecdote, an ex- 
ample, a Life. 

The mere arrangement of the contents displays con- 
summate skill. The Author has divided his Vies des Dames 
galantes into seven Discourses, as follows : 

In the First, he treats "Of ladies which do make love, 
and their husbands cuckolds;" 





In the Second, he expatiates "On the question which 
doth give the more content in love, whether touching, 
seeing or speaking;" 

In the Third, he speaks "Concerning the Beauty of a 
fine leg, and the virtue the same doth possess;" 

In the Fourth, he discourses "Concerning old dames 
as fond to practise love as ever the young ones be;" 

In the Fifth, he tells "How Fair and honourable ladies 
do love brave and valiant men, and brave men courageous 
women ;" 

In the Sixth, he teaches, "How we should never speak 
ill of ladies, and of the consequences of so doing;" 

In the Seventh, he asks, "Concerning married women, 
widows and maids which of these be better than the 
other to love." 

This list of subjects, displaying as it does, all the 
leading ideas of the book, leaves me little to add. I 
have no call to go into a detailed appreciation of the 
Work under its manifold aspects as a gallery of por- 
traits ; my task was merely to judge of its general physi- 
ognomy and explain its raisin d'etre; and this I have 
attempted to do. 

I will only add by way of conclusion a few words to 
show the especial esteem we should feel for Brantome on 
this ground, that his works contain nothing to corrupt 
good morals. Each narrative is told simply and straight- 
forwardly, for what it is worth. The author neither 
embellishes nor exaggerates. Moreover the species of 
corollary he clinches it with is a philosophical and physi- 
ological deduction of the happiest and most apposite 
kind in the great majority of instances, some witty and 



ingenious remark that never offends either against good 
sense or good taste. If now and again the reader is 
tempted to shy, he should in justice put this down to 
the diction of the time, which had not yet adopted that 
tone of arrogant virtue it nowadays affects. Then there 
was a large number of words in former days which con- 
noted nothing worse than something ridiculous and ab- 

Then as to beauty of language, we must go roundabout 
ways to reach many a point they marched straight to 
in old days. Brantome at any rate is a purist of style, 
one of the most striking and most correct writers I have 
ever read. It is a great and genuine discovery readers 
will make, if they do not know him already; if they do, 
they will be renewing acquaintance with an old friend, at 
once witty and delightful. In either case, 'tis a piece of 
luck not to be despised. 






\\jnicw oo mafce JLovsc, ana tn 

(7-v > 



lEEING 'tis the ladies have laid the foundation 
of all cuckoldry, and how 'tis they which do 
make all men cuckolds, I have thought it good 
to include this First Discourse in my present 
Book of Fair Ladies, albeit that I shall have occasion 
to speak therein as much of men as of women. I know 
right well I am taking up a great work, and one I should 
never get done withal, if that I did insist on full complete- 
ness of the same. For of a truth not all the paper in the 
Records Office of Paris would hold in writing the half of 
the histories of folk in this case, whether women or men. 
Yet will I set down what I can; and when I can no more, 
I will e'en give my pen to the devil, or mayhap to some 
good fellow-comrade, which shall carry on the tale. 

Furthermore must I crave indulgence if in this Dis- 
course I keep not due order and alignment, for indeed so 
great is the multitude of men and women so situate, and 



so manifold and divers their condition, that I know not 
any Commander and Master of War so skilled as that 
he could range the same in proper rank and meet array. 
Following therefore of mine own fantasy, will I speak 
of them in such fashion as pleaseth me, now in thig 
present month of April, the which bringeth round once 
more the very season and open time of cuckoos; I mean 
the cuckoos that perch on trees, for of the other sort are 
to be found and seen enough and to spare in all months 
and seasons of the year. 

Now of this sort of cuckolds, there be many of divers 
kinds, but of all sorts the worst and that which the ladies 
fear above all others, doth consist of those wild, fierce, 
tricky, ill-conditioned, malicious, cruel and suspicious hus- 
bands, who strike, torture and kill, some for true cause, 
others for no true reason at all, so mad and furious doth 
the very least suspicion in the world make them. With 
such all dealings are very carefully to be shunned, both 
by their wives and by the lovers of the same. Natheless 
have I known ladies and their lovers which did make no 
account of them ; for they were just as ill-minded as the 
others, and the ladies were bold and reckless, to such a 
degree that if their cavaliers chanced to fail of courage, 
themselves would supply them enough and to spare for 
both. The more so that in proportion as any emprise 
is dangerous and difficult, ought it to be undertaken in a 
bold and high spirit. On the contrary I have known 
other ladies of the sort who had no heart at all or ambi- 
tion to adventure high endeavours ; but cared for naught 
but their low pleasures, even as the proverb hath it : base 
of heart as an harlot. 

Myself knew an honourable lady, and a great one, who 



a good opportunity offering to have enjoyment of her 
lover, when this latter did object to her the incommodity 
that would ensue supposing the husband, who was not 
far off, to discover it, made no more ado but left him 
on the spot, deeming him no doughty lover, for that he 
said nay to her urgent desire. For indeed this is what 
an amorous dame, whenas the ardour and frenzy of desire 
would fain be satsified, but her lover will not or cannot 
content her straightway, by reason of sundry lets and 
hindrances, doth hate and indignantly abominate above 
all else. 

Needs must we commend this lady for her doughtiness, 
and many another of her kidney, who fear naught, if only 
they may content their passions, albeit therein they run 
more risks and dangers than any soldier or sailor doth 
in the most hazardous perils of field or sea. 

A Spanish dame, escorted one day by a gallant cavalier 
through the rooms of the King's Palace and happening to 
pass by a particular dark and secret recess, the gentle- 
man, piquing himself on his respect for women and his 
Spanish discretion, saith to her : Senora, buen lugar, si no 
fuera vuessa merced (A good place, my lady, if it were 
another than your ladyship). To this the lady merely 
answered the very same words back again, Si, buen lugar, 
si no fuera vuessa merced (Yes, Sir, a good place, if it 
were another than your lordship). Thus did she imply 
his cowardliness, and rebuke the same, for that he had 
not taken of her in so good a place what she did wish 
and desire to lose, as another and a bolder man would 
have done in like case. For the which cause she did 
thereupon altogether pretermit her former love for him, 
and left him incontinently. 





I have heard tell of a very fair and honourable lady, 
who did make assignation with her lover, only on condition 
he should not touch her (nor come to extremities at all). 
This the other accomplished, tarrying all night long in 
great ecstasy, temptation and continence; and thereat 
was the lady so grateful that some while after she did give 
him full gratification, alleging for reason that she had 
been fain to prove his love in accomplishing the task she 
had laid upon him. Wherefore she did love him much 
thereafter, and afforded him opportunity to do quite other 
feats than this one, verily one of the hardest sort to 
succeed in. 

Some there be will commend his discretion, or timid- 
ity, if you had rather call it so, others not. For myself 
I refer the question to such as may debate the point on 
this side or on that according to their several humours 
and predispositions. 

I knew once a lady, and one of no low degree, who 
having made an assignation with her lover to come and 
stay with her one night, he hied him thither all ready, in 
shirt only, to do his duty. But, seeing it was in winter- 
tide, he was so sorely a-cold on the way, that he could 
accomplish naught, and thought of no other thing but 
to get heat again. Whereat the lady did loathe the 
caitiff, and would have no more of him. 

Another lady, discoursing of love with a gentleman, 
he said to her among other matters that if he were with 
her, he would undertake to do his devoir six times in one 
night, so greatly would her beauty edge him on. "You 
boast most high prowess," said she ; "I make you assigna- 
tion therefore" for such and such a night. Nor did she 
fail to keep tryst at the time agreed; but lo! to his un- 





doing, he was assailed by so sad a convulsion, that he 
could by no means accomplish his devoir so much as once 
even. Whereupon the fair lady said to him, "What ! are 
you good for naught at all? Well, then! begone out of 
my bed. I did never lend it you, like a bed at an inn, to 
take your ease forsooth therein and rest yourself. There- 
fore, I say, begone!" Thus did she drive him forth, and 
thereafter did make great mock of him, hating the recre- 
ant worse than the plague. 

This last gentleman would have been happy enough, if 
only he had been of the complexion of the great Baraud, 
Protonotary and Almoner to King Francis, for whenas 
he lay with the Court-ladies, he would even reach the 
round dozen at the least, and yet next morning he would 
say right humbly, "I pray you, Madam, make excuse 
that I have not done better, but I took physic yester- 
day." I have myself known him of later years, when he 
was called Captain Baraud, a Gascon, and had quitted 
the lawyer's robe. He has recounted to me, at my ask- 
ing, his amours, and that name by name. 

As he waxed older, this masculine vigour and power 
somewhat failed him. Moreover he was now poor, albeit 
he had had good pickings, the which his prowess had 
gotten him; yet had he squandered it all, and was now 
set to compounding and distilling essences. "But verily," 
he would say, "if only I could now, so well as once I could 
in my younger days, I should be in better case, and should 
guide my gear better than I have done." 

During the famous War of the League, an honourable 
gentleman, and a right brave and valiant soldier, having 
left the place whereof he was Governor to go to the wars, 
could not on his return arrive in garrison before night- 





fall, and so betook himself to the house of a fair and 
very honourable and noble widow, who straight invited 
him to stay the night within doors. This he gladly con- 
sented to do, for he was exceeding weary. After mak- 
ing him good cheer at supper, she gives him her own 
chamber and bed, seeing that all the other bed-chambers 
were dismantled by reason of the War, and their furni- 
ture, and she had good and fair plenishing, under lock 
and key. Herself meanwhile withdraws to her closet, 
where she had a day-bed in use. 

The gentleman, after several times refusing this bed 
and bed-chamber, was constrained by the good lady's 
prayers to take it. Then so soon as he was laid down 
therein and asleep most soundly, lo! the lady slips in 
softly and lays herself down beside him in the bed with- 
out his being ware of aught all the night long, so aweary 
was he and heavily asleep. There lay he till broad day- 
light, when the lady, drawing away from him, as the 
sleeper began to awake, said, "You have not slept without 
company; for I would not yield you up the whole of my 
bed, so have I enjoyed the one half thereof as well as 
ever you have the other. You have lost a chance you will 
never have again." 

The gentleman, cursing and railing for spite of his 
wasted opportunity ('twere enough to make a man hang 
himself), was fain to stay her and beg her over. But no 
such thing! On the contrary, she was sorely displeased 
at him for not having contented her as she would have 
had him do, for of a truth she had not come thither for 
only one poor embrace, as the saying hath it, one em- 
brace is only the salad of a feast. She loved the plural 





number better than the singular, as do many worthy 

Herein they differ from a certain very fair and honour- 
able lady I once knew, who on one occasion having made 
assignation with her lover to come and stay with her, in 
a twinkling he did accomplish three good embraces with 
her. But thereafter, he wishing to do a fourth and make his 
number yet complete, she did urge him with prayers and 
commands to get up and retire. He, as fresh as at first, 
would fain renew the combat, and doth promise he would 
fight furiously all that night long till dawn of day, de- 
claring that for so little as had gone by, his vigour was 
in no wise diminished. But she did reply: "Be satisfied 
I have recognized your doughtiness and good dispositions. 
They are right fair and good, and at a better time and 
place I shall know very well how to take better advantage 
of them than at this present. For naught but some small 
illhap is lacking for you and me to be discovered. Fare- 
well then till a better and more secure occasion, and then 
right freely will I put you to the great battle, and not to 
such a trifling encounter as this." 

Many dames there be would not have shown this much 
prudency, but intoxicate with pleasure, seeing they had 
the enemy already on the field, would have had him fight 
till dawn of day. 

The same honourable lady which I spake of before 
these last, was of such a gallant humour that when the 
caprice was on her, she had never a thought or fear of 
her husband, albeit he was a ready swordsman and quick 
at offence. Natheless hath she alway been so fortunate 
as that neither she nor her lovers have ever run serious 
risks of their lives or come near being surprised, by dint 





of careful posting of guards and good and watchful 

Still it behoves not ladies to trust too much to this, 
for one unlucky moment is all that is needed to ruin all, 
as happened some while since to a certain brave and 
valiant gentleman 2 who was massacred on his way to see 
his mistress by the treachery and contrivance of the lady 
herself, the which her husband made her devise against 
him. Alas ! if he had not entertained so high a presump- 
tion of his own worth and valour as he rightly did, he 
would have kept better guard, and would never have 
fallen, more's the pity! A capital example, verily, not 
to trust over much to amorous dames, who to escape the 
cruel hand of their husbands, do play such a game as 
these order them, as did the lady in this case, who saved 
her own life, at the sacrifice of her lover's. 

Other husbands there be who kill the lady and the 
lover both together as I have heard it told of a very 
great lady whose husband was jealous of her, not for 
any offence he had certain knowledge of, but out of mere 
suspiciousness and mistaken zeal of love. He did his wife 
to death with poison and wasting sickness, a grievous 
thing and an exceeding sad, after having first slain the 
lover, a good and honourable man, declaring that the 
sacrifice was fairer and more agreeable to kill the bull 
first, and the cow afterwards. 

This same Prince was more cruel to his wife than he 
was later to one of his daughters, the which he had mar- 
ried to a great Prince, though not so great an one as 
himself was, he being indeed a monarch in all but name. 

It fell out to this fickle dame to be gotten with child by 
another than her husband, who was at the time busied 





afar in some War. Presently, having been brought to bed 
of a fine child, she wist not to what Saint to make appeal, 
if not to her father; so to him she did reveal all by the 
mouth of a gentleman she had trust in, whom she sent to 
him. No sooner had he hearkened to his confidence than 
he did send and charge her husband that, for his life, he 
should beware to make no essay against that of his daugh- 
ter, else would he do the same against his, and make him 
the poorest Prince in Christendom, the which he was well 
able to accomplish. Moreover he did despatch for his 
daughter a galley with a meet escort to fetch to him the 
child and its nurse, and providing a good house and liveli- 
hood, had the boy nourished and brought up right well. 
But when after some space of time the father came to die, 
thereupon the husband put her to death and so did punish 
her for her faithlessness at last. 

I have heard tell of another husband who did to death 
the lover before the eyes of his wife, causing him to lan- 
guish in long pain, to the end she might die in a martyr's 
agony to see the lingering death of him she had so loved 
and had held within her arms. 

Yet another great nobleman did kill his wife openly 
before the whole Court. 3 For the space of fifteen years 
he had granted the same all liberty, .and had been for long 
while well aware of her ill ways, having many a time and 
oft remonstrated thereat and admonished her. However 
at the last a sudden caprice took him ('tis said at the 
instance of a great Prince, his master), and on a certain 
morning he did visit her as she still lay abed, but on the 
point of rising. Then, after lying with her, and after 
sporting and making much mirth together, he did give 
her four or five dagger thrusts. This done, he bade a 



servant finish her, and after had her laid on a litter, and 
carried openly before all the Court to his own house, to 
be there buried. He would fain have done the like to her 
paramours ; but so would he have had overmuch on his 
hands, for that she had had so many they might have 
made a small army. 

I have heard speak likewise of a certain brave and 
valiant Captain,* who conceiving some suspicion of his 
wife, went straight to her without more ado and strangled 
her himself with his own hands, in her white girdle. 
Thereafter he had her buried with all due honour, and 
himself was present at her obsequies in mourning weeds 
and of a very sad countenance, the which mourning he 
did continue for many a long day, verily a noble sat- 
isfaction to the poor lady, as if a fine funeral could bring 
her to life again ! Moreover he did the same by a damosel 
which had been in waiting on his wife and had aided and 
abetted her in her naughtiness. Nor yet did he die with- 
out issue by this same wife, for he had of her a gallant 
son, one of the bravest and foremost soldiers of his coun- 
try, who by virtue of his worth and emprise did reach 
great honour as having served his Kings and masters right 

I have heard likewise of a nobleman in Italy which also 
slew his wife, not being able to catch her gallant who had 
escaped into France. But it is said he slew her, not so 
much because of her sin, for that he had been ware of 
for a long time, how she indulged in loose love and took 
no heed for aught else, as in order to wed another lady 
of whom he was enamoured. 

Now this is why it is very perilous to assail and attack 
an armed and defended spot, not but that there be as 





many of this sort assailed and right well assailed as of 
unarmed and undefended ones, yea ! and assailed victori- 
ously to boot. For an example whereof, I know of one 
that was as well armed and championed as any in all the 
world. Yet, was there a certain gentleman, in sooth a 
most brave and valiant soldier, who was fain to hanker 
after the same; nay! he was not content with this, but 
must needs pride himself thereon and bruit his success 
abroad. But it was scarce any time at all before he was 
incontinently killed by men appointed to that end, with- 
out otherwise causing scandal, and without the lady's 
suffering aught therefrom. Yet was she for long while 
in sore fear and anguish of spirit, seeing that she was then 
with child and firmly believing that after her bringing to 
bed, the which she would full fain have seen put off for 
an hundred years, she would meet the like fate. But the 
husband showed himself a good and merciful man, 
though of a truth he was one of the keenest swordsmen 
in all the world, and freely pardoned her; and nothing 
else came of it, albeit divers of them that had been her 
servants were in no small affright. However the one 
victim paid for all. And so the lady, recognizing the 
goodness and graciousness of such an husband, gave but 
very little cause for suspicion thereafter, for that she 
joined herself to the ranks of the more wise and virtuous 
dames of that day. 

It fell out very different not many years since in the 
Kingdom of Naples to Donna Maria d'Avalos, one of the 
fair Princesses of that land and married to the Prince 
of Venusia, who was enamoured of the Count d'Andriane, 
likewise one of the noble Princes of the country. So 
being both of them come together to enjoy their passion, 




and the husband having discovered it, by means whereof 
I could render an account, but the tale would be over 
long, having insooth surprised them there together, had 
the twain of them slain by men appointed thereto. In 
such wise that next morning the fair and noble pair, un- 
happy beings, were seen lying stretched out and exposed 
to public view on the pavement in front of the house door, 
all dead and cold, in sight of all passers-by, who could 
not but weep and lament over their piteous lot. 

Now there were kinsfolk of the said lady, thus done to 
death, who were exceeding grieved and greatly angered 
thereat, so that they were right eager to avenge the same 
by death and murder, as the law of that country doth 
allow. But for as much as she had been slain by base- 
born varlets and slaves who deserved not to have their 
hands stained with so good and noble blood, they were for 
making this point alone the ground of their resentment 
and for this seeking satisfaction from the husband, 
whether by way of justice or otherwise, but not so, if 
he had struck the blow with his own hand. For that 
had been a different case, not so imperatively calling for 

Truly an odd idea and a most foolish quibble have we 
here! Whereon I make appeal to our great orators and 
wise lawyers, that they tell me this : which act is the more 
monstrous, for a man to kill his wife with his own hand, 
the which hath so oftentimes loved and caressed her, or 
by that of a base-born slave? In truth there are many 
good arguments to be alleged on the point; but I will 
refrain me from adducing of them, for fear they prove 
over weak and silly in comparison of those of such great 




I have heard tell that the Viceroy, hearing of the plot 
that was toward, did warn the lover thereof, and the lady 
to boot. But their destiny would have it so ; this was 
to be the issue, and no other, of their so delightsome loves. 

This lady was daughter of Don Carlo d'Avalos, second 
brother of the Marquis di Pesca'ira, to whom if any had 
played a like trick in any of his love matters wherewith 
I am acquaint, be sure he would have been dead this many 
a long day. 

I once knew an husband, which coming home from 
abroad and having gone long without sleeping with his 
wife, did arrive with mind made up and glad heart to do 
so with her presently, and having good pleasure thereof. 
But arriving by night, he did hear by his little spy, how 
that she was accompanied by her lover in the bed. There- 
upon did he straight lay hand on sword, and knocked at 
the door; the which being opened, he entered in resolved 
to kill her. After first of all hunting for the gallant, 
who had escaped by the window, he came near to his wife 
to kill her; but it so happened she was on this occasion 
so becomingly tricked out, so featly dressed in her night 
attire and her fair white shift, and so gaily decked (bear 
in mind she had taken all this pretty pains with herself 
the better to please her lover), that he had never found 
her so much to his taste. Then she, falling at his knees, 
in her shift as she was, and grovelling on the ground, 
did ask his forgiveness with such fair and gentle words, 
the which insooth she knew right well how to set forth, 
that raising her up and seeing her so fair and of so gra- 
cious mien, he felt his heart stir within him, and dropping 
his sword, for that he had had no enjoyment for many 
a day and was anhungered therefor, which likely enough 



did stir the lady too at nature's prompting, he forgave 
her and took and kissed her, and put her back to bed 
again, and in a twinkling lay down with her, after 
shutting to the door again. And the fair lady did content 
him so well by her gentle ways and pretty cajoleries, 
be sure she forgat not any one of them all, that even- 
tually the next morning they were found better friends 
than ever, and never was so much loving and caressing 
between them before. As was the case likewise with King 
Menelaus, that poor cuckold, the which did ever by the 
space of ten or twelve years threaten his wife Helen that 
he would kill her, if ever he could put hands upon her, 
and even did tell her so, calling from the foot of Troy's 
wall to her on the top thereof. Yet, Troy well taken, 
and she fallen into his power, so ravished was he with 
her beauty that he forgave her all, and did love and 
fondle her in better sort than ever. 

So much then for these savage husbands that from lions 
turn into butterflies. But no easy thing is it for any to 
get deliverance like her whose case we now tell. 

A lady, young, fair and noble, in the reign of King 
Francis I., married to a great Lord of France, of as 
noble a house as is any to be found, did escape otherwise, 
and in more pious fashion, than the last named. For, 
whether it were she had given some cause for suspicion 
to her husband, or that he was overtaken by a fit of dis- 
trust or sudden anger, he came at her sword in hand for 
to kill her. But she bethought herself instantly to make 
a vow to the glorious Virgin Mary, and to promise she 
would to pay her said vow, if only she would save her life, 
at her chapel of Loretto at St. Jean des Mauverets, in 
the country of Anjou. And so soon as ever she had made 




this vow in her own mind, lo! the said Lord did fall to 
the ground, and his sword slipped from out his hand. 
Then presently, rising up again as if awaking from a 
dream, he did ask his wife to what Saint she had recom- 
mended herself to escape out of this peril. She told him 
it was to the Blessed Virgin, in her afore-named Chapel, 
and how she had promised to visit the holy place. 
Whereupon he said to her: "Go thither then, and fulfil 
your vow," the which she did, and hung up there a 
picture recording the story, together with sundry large 
and fair votive offerings of wax, such as of yore were 
customary for this purpose, the which were there to be 
seen for long time after. Verily a fortunate vow, and 
a right happy and unexpected escape, as is further set 
forth in the Chronicles of Anjou. s 


HAVE heard say how King Francis 1 once was 
fain to go to bed with a lady of his Court 
whom he loved. He found her husband sword 
in fist ready to kill him ; but the King straight- 
way did put his own to his throat, and did charge him, 
on his life, to do him no hurt, but an if he should do him 
the least ill in the world, how that he would kill him on 
the spot, or else have his head cut off. So for that night 
did he send him forth the house, and took his place. The 
said lady was very fortunate to have found so good a 
champion and protector of her person, for never after 
durst the husband to say one word of complaint, and 
so left her to do as she well pleased. 

I have heard tell how that not this lady alone, but 



many another beside, did win suchlike safeguard and pro- 
tection from the King. As many folk do in War-time 
to save their lands, putting of the King's cognizance over 
their doors, even so do these ladies put the countersign 
of their monarchs inside and out their bodies; whereby 
their husbands dare not afterward say one word of re- 
proach, who but for this would have given them inconti- 
nently to the edge of the sword. 

I have known yet other ladies, favoured in this wise by 
kings and great princes, who did so carry their passports 
everywhere. Natheless were there some of them, whose 
husbands, albeit not daring to use cold steel to them, did 
yet have resort to divers poisons and secret ways of 
death, making pretence these were catarrhs, or apoplexy 
and sudden death. Verily such husbands are odious, 
so to see their fair wives lying by their side, sickening 
and dying a slow death day after day, and do deserve 
death far worse than their dames. Others again do them 
to death between four walls, in perpetual emprisonment. 
Of such we have instances in sundry ancient Chronicles 
of France; and myself have known a great nobleman of 
France, the which did thus slay his wife, who was a very 
fair and honourable lady, and this by judgement of the 
Courts, taking an infatuate delight in having by this 
means his cuckoldry publicly declared. 

Among husbands of this mad and savage temper under 
cuckoldry, old men hold the first place, who distrusting 
their own vigour and heat of body, and bent on making 
sure of their wives' virtue, even when they have been so 
foolish as to marry young and beautiful ones, so jealous 
and suspicious are they of the same (as well by reason 
of their natural disposition as of their former doings 




in this sort, the which they have either done themselves 
of yore or seen done by others), that they lead the un- 
happy creatures so miserable a life that scarce could 
Purgatory itself be in any wise more cruel. 

The Spanish proverb saith : El diablo sabe mucho, porque 
es vie jo, "The devil knoweth much, because he is old"; 
and in like sort these old men, by reason of their age and 
erstwhile habitudes, know full many things. Thus are 
they greatly to be blamed on this point, for seeing they 
cannot satisfy their wives, why do they go about to marry 
them at all? Likewise are the women, being so fair and 
young, very wrong to marry old men under temptation 
of wealth, thinking they will enjoy the same after their 
death, the which they do await from hour to hour. And 
meanwhile do they make good cheer with young gallants 
whom they make friends of, for the which some of them 
do suffer sorely. 

I have heard speak of one who, being surprised in the 
act, her husband, an old man, did give her a certain 
poison whereby she lay sick for more than a year, and 
grew dry as a stick. And the husband would go oft to 
see her, and took delight in that her sickness, and made 
mirth thereat, declaring she had gotten her deserts. 

Yet another her husband shut her up in a room, and 
put her on bread and water, and very oft would he make 
her strip stark naked and whip her his fill, taking no pity 
on that fair naked flesh, and feeling no compunction 
thereat. And truly this is the worst of them, for seeing 
they be void of natural heat, and as little subject to 
temptation as a marble statue, no beauty doth stir their 
compassion, but they satiate their rage with cruel mar- 
tyrdoms ; whereas if that they were younger, they would 



take their satisfaction on their victim's fair naked body, 
and so forget and forgive, as I have told of in a previous 

This is why it is ill to marry suchlike ill-conditioned 
old men; for of a truth, albeit their sight is failing and 
coming to naught from old age, yet have they always 
enough to spy out and see the tricks their young wives may 
play them. 

Even so have I heard speak of a great lady who was 
used to say that never a Saturday was without sun, never 
a beautiful woman without amours, and never an old man 
without his being jealous; and indeed everything goeth 
for the enfeeblement of his vigour. 

This is why a great Prince whom I know was wont to 
say: that he would fain be like the lion, the which, grow 
he as old as he may, doth never get white ; or the monkey, 
which, the more he performeth, the more he hath desire 
to perform ; or the dog, for the older he waxeth, the bigger 
doth he become; or else the stag, forasmuch as the more 
aged he is, the better can he accomplish his duty, and the 
does will resort more willingly to him than to the younger 
members of the herd. 

And indeed, to speak frankly, as I have heard a great 
personage of rank say likewise, what reason is there, or 
what power hath the husband so great that he may and 
ought to kill his wife, seeing he hath none such from God, 
neither by His law nor yet His holy Gospel, but only to 
put her away? He saith naught therein of murder, and 
bloodshedding, naught of death, tortures or imprisonment, 
of poisons or cruelties. Ah! but our Lord Jesus Christ 
did well admonish us that great wrong was in these fash- 
ions of doing and these murders, and that He did hardly 



at>g^ia^4Bi{^tW:^- l ^' P ^^ 

or not at all approve thereof, whenas they brought to 
Him the poor woman accused of adultery, for that He 
might pronounce her doom and punishment. He said 
only to them, writing with His finger on the ground : "He 
that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone 
at her," the which not one of them all durst do, feeling 
themselves touched to the quick by so wise and gentle a 

Our Creator was for teaching us all not to be so lightly 
ready to condemn folk and put them to death, even on 
this count, well knowing the weakness of our human Na- 
ture, and the violent errors some do commit against it. 
For such an one doth cause his wife to be put to death, 
who is more an adulterer than she, while others again 
often have their wives slain though innocent, being aweary 
of them and desiring to take other fresh ones. How many 
such there be! Yet doth Saint Augustine say that the 
adulterous man is as much to be punished as the woman. 

I have heard speak of a very great Prince, and of high 
place in the world, who suspecting his wife of false love 
with a certain gallant cavalier, had him assassinated as 
he came forth by night from his Palace, and afterward 
the lady. A little while before, this latter at a Tourney 
that was held at Court, after fixedly gazing at her lover 
who did manage his horse right gracefully, said suddenly : 
"Great Lord! how well he doth ride!" "Yea!" was the 
unexpected answer, "but he rides too high an horse" ; and 
in short time after was he poisoned by means of certain 
perfumes or by some draught he swallowed by way of 
the mouth. 

I knew a Lord of a good house who did kill his wife, the 
which was very fair and of good family and lineage, poi- 




soning her by her private parts, without her being ware 
of it, so subtle and cunningly compounded was the said 
poison. This did he in order to marry a great lady who 
before had been wife to a Prince, without the influence 
and protection of whose friends he was in sad case, ex- 
posed to imprisonment and danger. However as his ill- 
luck would have it, he did not marry her after all, but 
was disappointed therein and brought into very evil 
repute, and ill looked at by all men and honourable ladies. 

I have seen high personages greatly blame our old-time 
Kings, such as Louis X. (le Hutin, the Obstinate) and 
Charles the Fair, for that they did to death their wives, 
the one Marguerite, daughter of Robert Duke of Bur- 
gundy, the other Blanche, daughter of Othelin Count of 
Burgundy, casting up against them their adulteries. So 
did they have them cruelly done to death within the four 
walls of the Chateau-Gaillard, as did likewise the Comte 
de Foix to Jeanne d'Arthoys. Wherein was not so much 
guilt or such heinous crimes as they would have had men 
to believe ; but the truth is the said monarchs were aweary 
of their wives, and so did bring up against them these 
fine charges, and after did marry others. 

As in yet another case, did King Henry of England 
have his wife put to death and beheaded, to wit Anne 
Boleyn, in order to marry another, for that he was a 
monarch very ready to shed blood and quick to change 
his wives. Were it not better that they should divorce 
them, according to God's word, than thus cruelly cause 
them to be slain? But no! they must needs ever have 
fresh meat these folk, who are fain to sit at table apart 
without inviting any to share with them, or else to have 
new and fresh wives to bring them gear after that they 


i?svitii?K^i^ftstifrir/ifrrt^^^ . wtiMMhwr, 


have wasted that of their first spouses, or else have not 
gotten of these enough to satisfy them. Thus did 
Baldwyn, 2 second King of Jerusalem, who making it to be 
believed of his first wife that she had played him false, 
did put her away, in order to take a daughter of the Duke 
of Malyterne, 3 because she had a large sum of money 
for dowry, whereof he stood in sore need. This is to be 
read in the History of the Holy Land. 4 Truly it well 
becomes these Princes to alter the Law of God and invent 
a new one, to the end they may make away with their 
unhappy wives! 

King Louis VII. (Le Jeune, the Young) 6 did not pre- 
cisely so in regard to Leonore, duchesse d'Acquitaine, 
who being suspected of adultery, mayhap falsely, during 
his voyaging in Syria, was repudiated by him on his sole 
authority, without appealing to the law of other men, 
framed as it is and practised more by might than by right 
or reason. Whereby he did win greater reputation than 
the other Kings named above, and the name of good, 
while the others were called wicked, cruel and tyrannical, 
forasmuch as he had in his soul some traces of remorse 
and truth. And this forsooth is to live a Christian life! 
Why! the heathen Romans themselves did for the most 
part herein behave more Christianly; and above all sun- 
dry of their Emperors, of whom the more part were 
subject to be cuckolds, and their wives exceeding lustful 
and whorish. Yet cruel as they were, we read of many 
who did rid themselves of their wives more by divorces 
than by murders such as we that are Christians do 

Julius Caesar did no further hurt to his wife Pompeia, 
but only divorced her, who had done adultery with Publius 





Clodius, a young and handsome Roman nobleman. For 
being madly in love with her, and she with him, he did 
spy out the opportunity when one day she was perform- 
ing a sacrifice in her house, to which only women were 
admitted. So he did dress himself as a girl, for as yet 
had he no beard on chin, and joining in the singing and 
playing of instruments and so passing muster, had leisure 
to do that he would with his mistress. However, being 
presently recognized, he was driven forth and brought to 
trial, but by dint of bribery and influence was acquitted, 
and no more came of the thing. 

Cicero expended his Latin in vain in a fine speech he 
did deliver against him. True it is that Caesar, wishful 
of convincing the public who would have him deem his 
wife innocent, did reply that he desired his bed not alone 
to be unstained with guilt, but free from all suspicion. 
This was well enough by way of so satisfying the world ; 
but in his soul he knew right well what the thing meant, 
his wife being thus found with her lover. Little doubt 
she had given him the assignation and opportunity; for 
herein, when the woman doth wish and desire it, no need 
for the lover to trouble his head to devise means and occa- 
sions; for verily will she find more in an hour than all 
the rest of us men together would be able to contrive 
in an hundred years. As saith a certain lady of rank 
of mine acquaintance, who doth declare to her lover: 
"Only do you find means to make me wish to come, and 
never fear! I will find ways enough." 

Caesar moreover knew right well the measure of these 
matters, for himself was a very great debauchee, and was 
known by the title of the cock for all hens. Many a hus- 
band did he make cuckold in his city, as witness the nick- 




name given him by his soldiers at his Triumph in the 
verse they did sing thereat: Romani, servate uxores; 
moechum adducimus calvum, 

(Romans, look well to your wives, for we bring you 
the bald-headed fornicator, who will debauch 'em every 

See then how that Caesar by this wise and cunning 
answer he made about his wife, did shake himself free of 
bearing himself the name of cuckold, the which he made 
so many others to endure. But in his heart, he knew 
for all that how that he was galled to the quick. 


CTAVIUS CAESAR 1 likewise did put away 
his wife Scribonia for the sake of his own 
lecherousness, without other cause, though 
at the same time without doing her any other 
hurt, albeit she had good excuse to make him cuckold, by 
reason of an infinity of ladies that he had relations with. 
Indeed before their husbands' very faces he would openly 
lead them away from table at those banquets he was 
used to give them; then presently, after doing his will 
with them, would send them back again with hair 
dishevelled and disordered, and red ears,- a sure sign 
of what they had been at! Not that myself did ever 
elsewhere hear tell of this last as a distinctive mark 
whereby to discover such doings; a red face for a cer- 
tainty have I heard so spoken of, but red ears never. 
So he did gain the repute of being exceeding lecherous, 
and even Mark Antony reproached him therewith; but he 
was used to excuse himself, saying he did not so much 




go with these ladies for mere wantonness, as thereby to 
discover more easily the secrets of their husbands, whom 
he did distrust. 

I have known not a few great men and others, which 
have done after the same sort and have sought after 
ladies with this same object, wherein they have had good 
hap. Indeed I could name sundry which have adopted 
this good device; for good it is, as yielding a twofold 
pleasure. In this wise was Catiline's conspiracy dis- 
covered by the means of a courtesan. 

The same Octavius was once seriously minded to put 
to death his daughter Julia, wife of Agrippa, for that 
she had been a notorious harlot, and had wrought great 
shame to him, for verily sometimes daughters do bring 
more dishonour on their fathers than wives on their hus- 
bands. Still he did nothing more than banish her the 
country, and deprive of the use of wine and the wearing 
of fine clothing, compelling her to wear poor folk's dress, 
by way of signal punishment, as also of the society of 
men. And this is in sooth a sore deprivation for women 
of this kidney, to rob them of the two last named grati- 
fications ! 

Another Emperor, and very cruel tyrant, Caligula, 2 did 
suspect that his wife, Livia Hostilia, had by stealth 
cheated him of sundry of her favours, and bestowed the 
same on her first husband, Caius Piso, from whom he 
had taken her away by force. This last was still alive, and 
was deemed to have received of her some pleasure and 
gratification of her fair body, the while the Emperor was 
away on a journey. Yet did he not indulge his usual 
cruelty toward her, but only banished her from him, two 





years after he had first taken her from her husband Piso 
and married her. 

He did the same to Tullia Paulina, whom he had taken 
from her husband Caius Memmius. He exiled her and 
that was all, but in this case with the express prohibition 
to have naught to do at all with the gentle art of love, 
neither with any other men nor yet with her husband 
truly a cruel and rigorous order so far as the last 
was concerned ! 

I have heard speak of a Christian Prince, and a great 
one, who laid the same prohibition on a lady whom he 
affected, and on her husband likewise, by no means to 
touch her, so jealous was he of her favours. 

Claudius, 3 son of Drusus Germanicus, merely put away 
his wife Plautia Urgulanilla, for having shown herself a 
most notorius harlot, and what is worse, for that he had 
heard how she had made an attempt upon his life. Yet 
cruel as he was, though surely these two reasons were 
enough to lead him to put her to death, he was content 
with divorce only. 

Then again, for how long a time did he endure the wild 
doings and filthy debaucheries of Valeria Messalina, his 
second wife, who was not content with doing it with one 
and another here and there in dissolute and abandoned 
sort, but made it her regular practice to go to the 
brothels to get gratification of her passions, like the big- 
gest strumpet in all the city. So far did she go, as 
Juvenal doth describe, that so soon as ever her husband 
was to bed with her, she would slip lightly away from 
beside him, when she saw him fast asleep and disguising 
herself the best she could, would hie her to some common 
brothel, where she took all she could get, and still would 



retire weary rather than replete or satisfied. Nay ! she did 
even worse. For her better contentment, and to win the 
repute and self-satisfaction of being a good harlot and 
accomplished light-o'-love, she did even ask for pay- 
ment, and would tax each round and each several act, like 
a travelling cess-collector, to the last doit. 

I have heard speak of a lady of the great world, and of 
no mean lineage neither, who for some while did follow 
the same life, and went thus to the common brothels in 
disguise, to make trial of this way of existence, and get 
gratification of her passions, so much so that one night 
the town-guard, while making their rounds, did actually 
arrest her unwittingly. And indeed there be other ladies 
too which play these pranks, as is well enough known. 

Boccaccio 4 in his book of "Great Folks that have been 
Unhappy," doth speak of this Messalina in gentle terms, 
and representeth her making excuse for her ill behaviour, 
forasmuch as she was born by nature altogether for this 
course of life, the day of her birth being signalized by signs 
in the heavens which do show in all cases an hot and fiery 
complexion. Her husband was ware of it, and bore long 
with her, until he learned how that she was secretly mar- 
ried to Caius Silius, one of the handsome gallants of Rome. 
So seeing the matter was as good as a plot upon his life, 
he had her put to death on this count, though in no wise 
for her lechery; for this he was well accustomed to see 
and know, and to condone the same. 

Anyone who hath seen the statue of the aforesaid 
Messalina found in these last days at the town of Bor- 
deaux will readily allow she did indeed bear the true look 
that comported with such a life. 'Tis an antique medal, 
found among some ruins ; and is very fine and well worthy 





to be preserved to look at and carefully examine. She is 
a very fine woman, of a very fine, tall figure, with hand- 
some features, and hair gracefully dressed in the old 
Roman fashion, and of very great stature, all manifest- 
ing she was what History doth declare her to have been. 
For, by what I gather from sundry philosophers, physi- 
cians and physiognomists, big women be naturally in- 
clined and well disposed to this thing. In truth such 
women are of a manly build, and so being, have share 
in the hot passions both of men and women, and con- 
joining the natures of both in one bodily frame, are thus 
more passionate and do possess more vigour than one 
alone, even as, they say, a great and deep-laden ship 
doth need deep water to bear her up. Moreover, by what 
the learned Doctors that be expert in the mysteries of 
love declare, a big woman is more apt and more delight- 
some thereto than a small one. 

The which doth mind me of a very great Prince, whom 
I once knew. Wishing to commend a certain woman 
whose favours he had enjoyed, he said in this wise: 
" 'Tis a most excellent harlot, as big as my lady mother." 
Whereon being checked at the over-reckless vivacity of his 
speech, he did explain how that he meant _ not to say 
she was as great a harlot as his mother, but that she was 
of the like stature and as tall as was his mother. For 
sometimes a man doth say things he intendeth in no wise 
to say, as sometimes on the other hand he will say, with- 
out intending, the very actual truth. 

Thus we see there is better cheer with big, tall women 
than with little ones, were it only for the noble grace 
and majesty, which they do own. For in this matter 
are these qualities as much called for and as attractive 





as in other exploits and exercises, neither more nor 
less for example than in horsemanship. Wherein the 
riding of a tall and noble charger of blood is an hundred 
fold more agreeable and pleasant than is that of a little 
pony, and doth give more enjoyment by far to the cavalier. 
Albeit must the same be a good rider, and carry himself 
well, and show much more strength and address. In sim- 
ilar wise must a man carry himself toward fine, tall 
women; for that such as be of this stature are wont to 
have a higher-stepping gait than others, and will full 
often make riders slip their stirrup, nay! even lose their 
saddle altogether, as I have heard some tell which have 
essayed to mount them. In which case do they straight 
make boast and great mockery, whenas they have unseated 
them and thrown them flat. So have I been told of a cer- 
tain lady of the good town of Paris, the which, the first 
time her lover did stay with her, said to him frankly: 
"Embrace me with a will, and clip me tight to you as 
well as ever you can ; and ride boldly, for I am high-paced, 
so beware of a fall. So for your part spare me not ; I 
am strong enough and expert enough to bear your 
assaults, be they as fierce as they may. For indeed, if 
you spare me, will I not spare you. A good ball de- 
serveth a good return." But insooth the lady did win 
the match. 

Thus must a man take good heed to his behaviour with 
suchlike bold, merry, stalwart, fleshly and well-built 
dames ; and though truly the superabundant heat that is 
in them doth give great contentment, yet will they at 
times be overpressing by reason of their excessive pas- 
sionateness. However, as the proverb saith: There be 
good hinds of all sizes, so likewise are there little, dwarf- 





ish women which have action, grace and manner in these 
matters coming very nigh to their taller sisters, or 
mayhap they be fain to copy them, and as keen for the 
fray as they, or even more so, (I would appeal to the 
masters in these arts), just as a little horse will curvet 
every whit as nimbly as a big one. This bringeth to mind 
the saying of a worthy husband, who declared his wife 
was like divers animals and above all like an ape, for that 
when a-bed she would do naught but twist and turn and 
toss about. 

Sundry reminiscences have beguiled me into this digres- 
sion. 'Tis time now to come back again to our original 

Another case. That cruel tyrant Nero 5 did content 
himself with the mere putting away of his wife Octavia, 
daughter of Claudius and Messalina, for her adultery; 
and his cruelty stopped thereat. 

Domitian 6 did even better, who divorced his wife Lon- 
gina, because she was so fondly enamoured of a certain 
comedian and buffoon named Paris, and did naught else 
all day long but play the wanton with him, neglecting the 
society of her husband altogether. Yet, after no long 
time, did he take her back again and repented him of 
the separation from her. Remember this: the said 
mountebank had taught her meantime sundry tricks of 
adroitness and cunning address, the which the Emperor 
did hope he would have good profit of ! 

Pertinax 7 did show a like clemency toward his wife 
Favia Sulpitiana. Not indeed that he did divorce her, 
nor yet take her again, but though well knowing her to 
be devoted to a singer and player of instruments of 
music, and to give all her love to the same, yet made he no 




complaint, but let her do her will. Meanwhile himself 
pursued an intrigue with one Cornificia, who was his 
own cousin german. Herein he did but follow the opinion 
of Heliogabalus, who was used to say there was naught 
in the world more excellent than the frequenting of one's 
own relations, male and female. Many there be that I 
wot of, which have made such exchanges and had such- 
like dealings, going upon the opinions of these two 
Princes ! 

So likewise did the Emperor Severus 8 take no heed of 
his wife's honour or dishonour, though she was a public 
harlot. Yet did he never think of correcting her therefor, 
saying only she was called Julia by her name, and that all 
who bare that name had from all time been fated to be 
mighty whores and to cuckold their husbands. In like wise 
do I know many ladies bearing certain names under this 
our Christian dispensation, I will not say who they be 
for the respect I owe to our holy Religion, the which are 
constantly used to be strumpets and to lift the leg more 
than other women bearing other names. Of such have 
been very few which have escaped this evil fate. 

Well! of a truth I should never have done, were I to 
adduce all the infinity of examples of great ladies and 
Roman Emperors of yore, in whose case their husbands, 
though sore cajoled and albeit very cruel men, did yet 
refrain them from exerting their cruelty and undoubted 
rights and privileges against their wives, no matter how 
dissolute and ill-conducted these were. I ween few prudes 
were there in those old days, as indeed is sufficiently 
declared in the history of their lives, and as may be plainly 
discerned by careful examination of ancient portraits and 
medallions representing them; for indeed you may behold 




in their fair faces this same lubricity manifestly and 
obviously displayed by chisel and graver. Yet did their 
husbands, cruel Princes as these were, pardon them, and 
did put none of them to death, or but a very few. So 
would it seem true that these Pagans, not knowing God, 
yet were so gentle and clement toward their wives and 
the human race, while the most part of our Kings, Princes, 
great Lords and other Christian men, be so cruel toward 
the same for a like offence. 


JATHELESS must we herein greatly commend 
our brave and good Philip Augustus, 1 King 
of France, who after having put away his wife 
Angerberge, sister of Canute, King of Den- 
mark, which was his second wife, under pretext she was 
his cousin in the third degree on the side of his first wife 
Ysabel, though others say he did suspect her of unfaith- 
fulness, yet did the said King, under the weight of eccle- 
siastical censures, albeit he had married again elsewhere, 
take her back again, and so conveyed her home behind 
him on horseback, without the privity of the Diet of 
Soissons, that had been summoned to decide this very 
matter, but was too dilatory to come to any conclusion 

Nowadays never a one of our great men will do the 
like; but the least punishment they do their wives is to 
shut them up in perpetual prison, on bread and water, 
poisoning them or killing them, whether by their own 
hand or by legal process. If they have so great a desire 
to be rid of them and marry others, as doth often happen, 



why do they not divorce them and honourably separate 
from them, without doing other hurt, and then ask power 
of the Pope to marry another wife? For surely what 
God hath joined together, man (without God's authority) 
may in no wise separate. Yet have we had sundry ex- 
amples thereof, and notably those of our French Kings 
Charles VIII. 2 and Louis XII. 3 Whereanent I did once 
hear a great Theologian discourse, namely with regard 
to the late King Philip of Spain, who had married his 
niece, the mother of the present King, and this by dis- 
pensation. He said thus: "Either must we outright 
allow the Pope to be God's Vicegerent on earth, and so 
absolutely, or else not at all. If he is, as we Catholics 
are bound to believe, we must entirely confess his power 
as absolute and unbounded on earth, and without limit, 
and that he can tie and untie as good him seemeth. But 
if we do not hold him such, well, I am sorry for them that 
be in such error, but good Catholics have naught to do 
with them." Wherefore hath our Holy Father authority 
over dissolutions of marriage, and can allay many grave 
inconveniences which come therefrom to husband and 
wife, when they do ill agree together. 

Certainly women are greatly blameworthy so to treat 
their husbands and violate their good faith, the which 
God hath so strongly charged them to observe. But yet 
on the other hand hath he straitly forbid murder, and 
it is highly detestable to Him, on whosesoever part it be. 
Never yet hardly have I seen bloody folk and murderers, 
above all of their wives, but they have paid dear for it, 
and very few lovers of blood have ended well, whereas 
many women that have been sinners have won the pity 
of God and obtained mercy, as did the Magdalen. 




In very deed these poor women are creatures more 
nearly resembling the Divinity than we, because of their 
beauty. For what is beautiful is more near akin to God 
who is all beautiful, than the ugly, which belongeth to the 

The good Alfonzo, King of Naples, was used to say 
how that beauty was a token of good and gentle manners, 
as the fair flower is token of a good and fair fruit. And 
insooth have I seen in my life many fair women who 
were altogether good ; who though they did indeed indulge 
in love, did commit no evil, nor take heed for aught else 
but only this pleasure, and thereto applied all their care 
without a second thought. 

Others again have I seen most ill-conditioned, harmful, 
dangerous, cruel and exceeding spiteful, naught hindering 
them from caring for love and evil-doing both together. 

It may then well be asked, why, being thus subject to 
the fickle and suspicious humour of their husbands, the 
which do deserve punishment ten times more in God's 
eyes, why they are so sorely punished? Indeed and in- 
deed the complexion and humour of such folk is as griev- 
ous as is the sorry task of writing of them. 

I speak next of yet another such, a Lord of Dalmatia, 
who having slain his wife's paramour, did compel her to 
bed habitually with his dead body, stinking carrion as 
it was. The end whereof was, the unhappy woman was 
choked with the evil stench she did endure for several 

In the Cent Nouvelles of the Queen of Navarre will be 
found the most touching and saddest tale that can be 
read on this matter, the tale of that fair lady of Ger- 
many the which her husband was used to constrain to 




drink ever from the skull of her dead lover, whom he had 
slain. This piteous sight did the Seigneur Bernage, at 
that day ambassador in the said country for the French 
King Charles VIII., see and make report thereof. 

The first time ever I was in Italy, I was told, when 
passing through Venice, what did purport to be a true 
story of a certain Albanian knight, the which having 
surprised his wife in adultery, did kill the lover. And 
for spite that his wife had not been content with him, 
for indeed he was a gallant knight, and well fitted for 
Love's battles, so much so that he could engage ten or 
twelve times over in one night, he did contrive a strange 
punishment, and so did seek out carefully in all quarters 
a dozen stout fellows of the right lecherous sort, who 
had the repute of being well and vigorously built and very 
adroit in action. These he took and hired, and engaged 
the same for money. Then he did lock them in his wife's 
chamber, who was a very fair woman, and gave her up to 
them, beseeching them one and all to do their duty thor- 
oughly, with double pay if that they did acquit themselves 
really well. Thus did they all go at her, one after another, 
and did handle her in such wise that they did kill her, to 
the great pleasure of her husband, who did cast it in her 
teeth, when she was nigh unto death, that having loved 
this pleasure so much, she could now have her fill thereof. 
Herein he but copied what Semiramis (or rather 
Thomyris) said, as she put Cyrus' head into a vessel full 
of blood. A terrible death truly ! 

The poor lady had not so died, if only she had been 
of the robust complexion of a girl that was in Caesar's 
camp in Gaul. Two legions did pass, 'tis said, over her 



body in brief space ; yet at the end of all she did dance a 
fling, feeling no hurt thereof. 

I have heard speak of a Frenchwoman, town-bred, a 
lady of birth and of handsome looks, who was violated 
in our civil wars, in a town taken by assault, by a multi- 
tude of men-at-arms. On escaping away from these, she 
did consult a worthy Father as to whether she had sinned 
greatly, first telling him her story. He said, no! inas- 
much as she had been had by force, and deflowered with- 
out her consent, but entirely misliking the thing. Where- 
on she did make answer: "Now God be praised, for that 
once in my life I have had my fill, without sinning or 
doing offence to God !" 

A lady of good quality, having been in like wise vio- 
lated at the time of the Massacre of Saint Bartholomew, 
and her husband being dead, she did ask of a man of 
knowledge and right feeling, whether she had offended 
God, and whether she would not be punished of His 
sternness, and if she had not sorely wronged the manes 
of her husband, who had but only quite late been slain. 
He answered her, that if, when she was at this work, 
she had taken pleasure therein, then had she surely 
sinned ; but if she had felt but disgust at . the thing, it 
was as if it had never been. A good and wise judge- 

I once knew well a lady who held quite other views, for 
she was used to say : Never did she feel so great a pleasure 
in these doings, as when she was half forced and all but 
violated as it were, and then was there much pleasure 
therein. The more a woman showeth herself rebellious 
and recalcitrant, so much the more doth the man wax 
ardent and push home the attack; and so having once 




forced the breach, he doth use his victory more fiercely 
and savagely, and thereby giveth more appetite to the 
woman. The latter is for very delight like one half dead 
and swooned, or so it seemeth; but really 'tis by reason 
of the extreme pleasure she findeth therein. Indeed the 
same lady did actually say further, that oftentimes she 
would make these ados and show resistance to her hus- 
band, and play the prudish, capricious and scornful wife, 
and so put him the more on his mettle. Whereby when 
he did come to it, both he and she did find an hundred- 
fold more pleasure; for many writers have noted, a 
woman pleaseth better who makes some little difficulties 
and resistances than when she lets herself straightway 
be taken. So in War is a victory won by force more 
signalised and hailed with greater delight and enthusiasm 
than when had for nothing, and the triumph thereof is 
sweeter. Yet must not the lady in all this overdo the 
part of the peevish and evil-tempered jade, else may she 
likely be mistaken rather for a silly whore wishful to be 
playing of the prude. But at such interference would she 
be sore offended, to go by what I am told by such dames 
as are most versed and apt in these matters, to the whom 
I do appeal. For far be it from me to give them in- 
struction in things they do understand much better 
than I ! 

Again, I have known many greatly blame some of these 
callous and murderous husbands on one count in especial, 
namely that, if their wives be whores, themselves are the 
cause of it. For, as Saint Augustine saith, it is great 
foolishness in an husband to demand chastity of his wife, 
himself being all the while plunged in the slough of lech- 
erous living; for such mode of life as he doth claim from 





his wife, the same he should follow himself. Moreover we 
do read in Holy Scripture how that it is not expedient 
that the husband and wife love each other so excessively, 
meaning by this with a wanton and lecherous love. For 
in that case do they set all their heart and mind on lustful 
pleasures, and think so much of these and give themselves 
up so entirely to the same, as that they do neglect the 
love which they owe to God. Thus have I myself seen 
many women who so loved their husbands, and their hus- 
bands them, and burned for them with such ardour, as 
that both of them did forget God's service utterly, inas- 
much as the time they should have given thereto, they 
did devote to their lecheries and employ the whole of it 

Furthermore, and this is a yet worse thing, these same 
husbands do teach their wives a thousand lecheries. The 
end is that for one fire brand of lust they have in their 
body to begin with, they do engender an hundred, and 
so make them exceeding lascivious, so that being so 
trained and instructed, they cannot later refrain them- 
selves from leaving their husbands to go after other 
swains. Whereat are their husbands in despair, and do 
punish their poor wives sorely. Herein they do commit 
great injustice, for it is only natural the wives, whenas 
they feel their heart stirred with satisfaction at being so 
well trained, should then wish to show others all they 
know ; but the husbands would fain have them hide their 
science. In all this is neither sense nor reason, no more 
than if a good horseman should have a well-trained horse, 
which could go all paces, and yet should suffer no man 
to see the same tried or to mount on its back, but should 




require folk to believe it on his mere word, and take the 
beast without other warranty. 

I have heard tell of an honourable gentleman of the 
great world, who having fallen deep in love with a certain 
fair lady, was warned by a friend of his how that he was 
but wasting his time, seeing she did love her husband 
far too well. So one day he did contrive to make an hole 
which looked right into their room. Then when they 
were together, he failed not to spy at them through this 
hole, whereby he did behold the greatest lubricities and 
lecheries, and this as much, nay! even more, on the part 
of the wife than of the husband. Accordingly the next 
day he hied him to his comrade, and detailing all the 
fine sight he had had, did thus say to him: " The woman 
is mine, I tell you, so soon as ever the husband hath 
started on such and such a journey; for she will never 
be able for long to restrain herself under the ardour 
which nature and art as well have given her, but must 
needs assuage the same. And in this wise by dint of my 
perseverance shall I have her." 

I know yet another honourable gentleman, the which 
being exceedingly enamoured of a fair and honourable 
lady, aware she had a copy of Aretino with pictures in 
her closet, as her husband well knew and had seen and 
did allow, straightway augured therefrom that he would 
overcome her. And so without losing hope, did he make 
love to her so well, and so long and patiently, that at the 
last he did win the day. And hereon did he find that 
she had indeed learned good lessons and excellent science, 
whether from her husband or from others, albeit neither 
the one nor the other had been her first masters, but 
Dame Nature rather, who was a better mistress therein 





than all the arts. Not but what the book and good prac- 
tice had helped much in the matter, as she did later con- 
fess to him. 

We read in ancient Writers of a great courtesan and 
procuress of the days of old Rome, by name Elephan- 
tin, 4 who did make and invent postures or modes of the 
same sort as those of Aretino, but even worse, the which 
the great ladies and princesses of yore, following the 
ways of harlotry, did study as being a very excellent book. 

Also that good dame and famous whore of Cyrene in 
Africa, who did bear the title of Dodecamechanos (she of 
the twelve devices), because she had discovered twelve 
several modes whereby to make the pleasure more wanton 
and voluptuous. 

Heliogabalus 5 was used to hire and keep in his pay, at 
the expense of much money and costly gifts, such men 
and women as did invent and bring forward new devices 
of this kind, the better to arouse his lecherousness. Yea ! 
and I have heard of other such that are like him among 
the great folk of our own day ! 

But a few years since did Pope Sixtus V. cause to be 
hanged at Rome a Secretary which had been in the service 
of the Cardinal d'Este and was named Capella, for many 
and divers offences, but amongst other that he had com- 
posed a book of these same fine postures, the which were 
figured by a great ecclesiastic whom I will not name for 
sake of his cloth, and by a great lady, one of the fair 
dames of Rome, the whole shown to the life and painted 
in proper form and colour. 6 





ONCE knew a Prince and a great man who did 
even better, for he had of a goldsmith a very 
fair cup made of silver gilt, by way of a mas- 
terpiece and very especial curiosity, the most 
high-wrought, well engraven and cunningly chiseled piece 
of work could anywhere be seen. And thereon were cut 
most featly and subtly with the graver sundry of the 
postures from Aretino, of men and women with one an- 
other; this on the lower part of the cup, and above and 
higher up sundry also of the divers modes of beasts. 

And 'twas here I first learned (for many is the time I 
have seen the said cup and drunk therein, not without 
laughing) the way of cohabitation of the lion and lioness, 
the which is quite opposite to that of all other animals. 
This I had never known before, and as to its nature I 
refer me to those who are ware of the facts without my 
telling them. The said cup was the glory of the Prince's 
sideboard; for verily, as I have said, it was right fairly 
and richly wrought, and very pleasant to look at inside 
and out. 

When this same Prince did give a feast to the ladies, 
married and single, of his Court, and not seldom was it 
his habit so to invite them, his butlers never failed, such 
was his strait command, to serve the company to drink 
in this cup. Then were such as had never afore seen it 
moved in divers ways, either while drinking or afterward. 
Some would be sore astonished, and know not what to say 
thereat ; some would be all ashamed and the scarlet leap- 
ing to their face; some again would be whispering low to 
one another: "Nay! what is all this carven inside? I fear 



;aas<^i^^,i8iii^tg^ t >*i^ 

me they be naughty pictures. I will never drink from the 
cup again. I must indeed be sore athirst before ever I 
ask for drink therefrom again?" Yet were they bound 
to drink from this cup, or burst with thirst; and to 
this end, would some shut their eyes in drinking, but the 
rest, who were less shamefaced, not. Such as had heard 
tell of the hang of it, as well matrons as maids, would 
be laughing the while under the rose; while such as had 
not, would be downright bursting with desire to do the 

When asked what they had to laugh at and what they 
had seen, some would reply they had seen naught but 
some pictures, and for anything there was there they 
would make no ado about drinking another time. Others 
would say, "As for me, I think no ill thereof: what the 
eye sees or a picture shows forth doth never soil the soul." 
Some again would declare, "Bah! good wine is as good 
in this cup as in another;" and say it was as good to 
drink out of as any other, and did quench the thirst just 
the same. Then some of the ladies would be questioned, 
why they did not shut their eyes in drinking, to which 
they would make answer they were fain to see what they 
were drinking, for fear instead of wine it might be some 
drug or poison. Others would be asked which they did 
take the more pleasure in, seeing or drinking; whereto 
they would reply, "In both, of course." Some would be 
crying, "Oh! the quaint grotesques!" others, "Ah, ha! 
what be these merry mummeries we have here?" Some, 
" Oh ! the pretty pictures !" and others, " Here be fine 
figures to look at!" Some, " Well, well! Master Gold- 
smith must needs have had good leisure to while away 
his time in making these gewgaws !" Others, " And you, 





Sire! to think you should have taken this wondrous cup 
of him !" " Now feel ye not a something that doth touch 
you, ladies, at the sight?" They would enquire presently, 
to which the answer would come, " Nay ! never a one 
of all these droll images hath had power enough to stir 
me!" Others again would be asked, whether they had 
not found the wine hot, and whether it had not warmed 
them finely in this wintry weather; and they would an- 
swer, " Nay ! we noted no heat ; for indeed our draught 
was cold, and did much refresh us." Some they would 
ask, which of all these figures they would best love to 
have; and they would answer they could in no wise re- 
move them from where they were to transport them 

In short, an hundred thousand gibes and quips and 
cranks would pass thereon between the gentlefolk and 
ladies at table, as I have myself seen, so that it did make 
right merry jesting, and a very pleasant thing to see and 
hear. But above all, to my thinking, best and most 
heartsome was it to watch those innocent maids, or may- 
hap them that figured only to be so, and other ladies 
newly come to Court, striving to maintain a cold mien, 
with an artificial laugh on their face and lips, or else 
holding themselves in and playing the hypocrite, as was 
the way with many ladies. And mind this, though they 
had been a-dying of thirst, yet durst not the butlers 
have given them to drink in any other cup or glass. Yea ! 
and likewise were there some ladies that sware, to put a 
good face on the matter, they would never, never come 
to these feasts again; but for all that did they in no 
wise fail to come again often enough, for truly the Prince 
was a right magnificent and dainty host. Other ladies 




would say, on being invited thither : "Well ! I will go, but 
under protest we shall not be given to drink in the cup;" 
yet when once they were there, would they drink therein 
as well as ever. At the last would they aye think better 
of it, and make no more scruple whatever about drinking. 
Nay ! some did even better, and turned the said images to 
good use in fitting time and place; and yet more than 
this, some did act dissolutely of set purpose to make trial 
of the same, for that every person of spirit would fain 
essay everything. So here we have the fatal effects of 
this cup so well dight. And hereanent must each fancy 
for himself all the other discourse, and thoughts and 
looks and words, that these ladies did indulge in and give 
vent to, one with another, whether in privity or in open 

I ween this cup was of a very different sort from the 
one whereof M. Ronsard l doth speak in one of his earliest 
Odes, dedicated to the late King Henri, which doth thus 
begin : 

Comme un qui prend une couppe, 
Seul honneur de son tresor. 
Et de rang verse a la trouppe 
Du vin qui rit dedans 1'or. *'-' 

(As one who takes a cup, sole honour of all his treasure, 
and duly pours therein to the company good wine that 
laughs within the gold.) 

However in this cup I tell of the wine laughed not at 
any, but rather the folk at the wine. For verily some 
dames did drink laughing, and others trembling with de- 
light; and yet others would be nigh compissoyent, I 
mean not of course just ordinary piddling, but something 


9rftf! : VBRiBfflM*i^^ 


more. In a word the said cup did bring dire effects with 
it, so touching true were these images, figures and repre- 

In likewise do I remember me how once, in a gallery 
of the Comte de Chasteau- Villain, known as the Seigneur 
Adjacet, a company of ladies with their lovers having 
come to visit the said fair mansion, they did fall to 
contemplating sundry rare and beautiful pictures in the 
Gallery thereof. Among these they beheld a very beau- 
tiful picture, wherein were pourtrayed a number of fair 
ladies naked and at the bath, which did touch, and feel, 
and handle, and stroke, one the other, and intertwine 
and fondle with each other, and so enticingly and prettily 
and featly did show all their hidden beauties that the 
coldest recluse or hermit had been warmed and stirred 
thereat. Wherefore did a certain great lady, as I have 
heard it told, and indeed I do know her well, losing all 
restraint of herself before this picture, say to her lover, 
turning toward him maddened as it were at the madness 
of love she beheld painted; "Too long have we tarried 
here. Let us now straightway take coach and so to my 
lodging; for that no more can I hold in the ardour that 
is in me. Needs must away and quench it; too sore do I 
burn." And so she did haste away to enjoy her faithful 

Suchlike pictures and portrayals do bring more hurt 
to a weak soul than men think for. Another of the same 
sort there, was a Venus naked, lying on a couch and 
eyed by her son Cupid ; another, Mars a-bed with Venus, 
another, a Leda with her swan. Many other there be, 
both there and elsewhere, that are somedel more modestly 
painted and better veiled than the figures of Aretino; 





but all do come pretty much to one and the same, and 
are of the like nature with our cup whereof I have been 
speaking. This last had, as it were, a sort of likeness in 
unlikeness to the cup which Renault de Montauban found 
in the Castle Ariosto doth tell of, the which did openly 
discover unhappy husbands that were cuckolds, whereas 
this one was more likely to make them so. But while the 
one did cause somewhat too great scandal to cuckolds 
and their faithless wives, the other had no such effect. 
Nowadays is no need of these books or these pictures, 
for that husbands teach their wives themselves enough 
and to spare without them. And now for the results of 
suchlike husbands' schooling! 

I knew an excellent Venetian printer at Paris named 
Messer Bernardo, a kinsman of the great Aldus Manu- 
tius of Venice 2 , which did keep his shop in the Rue Saint- 
Jacques. The same did once tell me, and swear to it, 
that in less than a year he had sold more than fifty of 
the two volumes of Aretino 3 to very many folks, married 
and unmarried, as well as to women of whom he did name 
three very great ladies of society; but I will not repeat 
the names. To these he did deliver the book into their 
own hands, and right well bound, under oath given he 
would breathe never a word of it though he did round 
it to me natheless. And he did tell me further how that 
another lady having asked him some time after, if he had 
not another like the one she had seen in the hands of 
one of the three, he had answered her: Signora, si, e 
peggio ("Yes, Madam, and worse") ; and she instantly, 
money on table, had bought them all at their weight in 
gold. Verily a frantic inquisitiveness for to send her 




husband a voyage to the haven of Cornette (the Horns), 
near by Civita-Vecchia. 

All such devices and postures are abominable in God's 
sight, as indeed St. Jerome saith: "Whosoever doth show 
himself more unrestrainedly enamoured of his wife than 
a husband should, is an adulteror and committeth sin. 
And forasmuch as sundry Doctors of the Church have 
spoken thereof, I will sum up the matter shortly in Latin 
words, seeing themselves have not thought good to say 
it in plain language: Excessus, say they, conjugum fit, 
quando uxor cognoscitur ante retro stando, sedendo, in 
latere, et mulier super virum (Excess between married 
people is committed when the wife is known before by the 
husband standing behind, or sitting, or sideways, or the 
woman on top of the man). This last posture is referred 
to in a little couplet I once read, and which goes as 
follows : 

In prato viridi monialem ludere vidi 
Cum monacho leviter, ille sub, ilia super. 

Other learned Doctors hold that any mode whatsoever 
is good, provided only that semen ejaculetur in matricem 
mulieris, et quomodocunque uxor cognoscatur, si vir ejac- 
tdetur semen in matricem, non est peccatum mortale. 

These arguments are to be found in the Summa Bene- 
dicti. This Benedict * is a Doctor of the Cordeliers, who 
has writ most excellently of all the sins, and shown how 
that he hath both seen much and read widely. Anyone 
who will read this passage, will find therein a number 
of excesses which husbands do commit toward their wives. 
Thus he saith that quando mulier est ita pinguis ut non 
possit aliter coire, non est mortale peccatum, modo vir 





ejaculetur semen in vas naturale. Whereas others again 
say it were better husbands should abstain from their wives 
altogether when they are with child, as do the animals, 
than for them to befoul marriage with such abominations. 
I knew once a famous courtesan of Rome, called "The 
Greek," whom a great Lord of France had kept in that 
city. After some space, she had a strong desire to visit 
France, using to this end the Signer Bonvisi, a Banker 
of Lyons, a native of Lucca and a very rich man, who 
was her lover. Wherein having succeeded, she did make 
many enquiries concerning the said gentleman and his 
wife, and amongst other matters, whether mayhap she did 
not cuckold him, "seeing that," she would say, "I have 
so well trained her husband, and have taught him such 
excellent lessons, that he having once shown them to his 
wife and practised the same with her, it is not possible 
but that she have desired to show the same to others also. 
For insooth our trade is such an one, when it is well 
learned, that a woman doth find an hundred times more 
pleasure in showing and practising it with several than 
with one only." Furthermore did she say that the said 
lady ought of rights to make her a handsome present 
and one worthy of her pains and good teaching, foras- 
much as when her husband did first come to her school, 
he knew naught at all, but was in these matters the most 
silly, inexperienced prentice hand ever she had seen. But 
now, so well had she trained him and fashioned him that 
his wife must needs find him an hundred times better. 
For in fact the lady, desiring to see her, went to visit 
her in disguise; this the courtesan suspected, and held 
all the discourse to her I have detailed, and worse still 
and more dissolute, for she was an exceeding dissolute 





woman. And this is how husbands do forge the knives 
to cut their own throats withal ; or rather is it a question 
not of throats at all, but of horns! Acting after this 
sort do they pollute holy matrimony, for the which God 
doth presently punish them; then must they have their 
revenge on their wives, wherein are they an hundred times 
more deserving of punishment than before. So am I not a 
whit surprised that the same venerable Doctor did de- 
clare marriage to be in very truth but a kind of adultery, 
as it were ; thereby intending, when men did abuse it after 
the fashion I have been discoursing of. 

Thus hath marriage been forbidden our priests ; for 
that it is no wise meet that, just come from their wives' 
bed and after polluting themselves exceedingly with them, 
they should then approach an holy altar. For, by my 
faith, so far as I have heard tell, some folk do wanton 
more with their wives than do the very reprobates with 
the harlots in brothels ; for these last, fearing to catch 
some ill, do not go to extremes or warm to the work 
with them as do husbands with their wives. For these 
be clean and can give no hurt, that is to say the most 
part of them, though truly not quite all ; for myself have 
known some to give it to their husbands, as also their 
husbands to them. 

Husbands, so abusing their wives, are much deserving 
of punishment, as I have heard great and learned Doctors 
say ; for that they do not behave themselves modestly with 
their wives in their bed, as of right they should, but 
wanton with them as with concubines, whereas marriage 
was instituted for necessity of procreation, and in no wise 
for dissolute and lecherous pleasure. And this did the 
Emperor Sejanus Commodus, otherwise called Anchus 



Verus 5 , well declare unto us, when he said to his wife 
Calvilla, who did make complaint to him, for that he was 
used to bestow on harlots and courtesans and other the 
like what did of rights belong to her in her bed, and rob 
her of her little enjoyments and gratifications. "Bear 
with me, wife," he said to her, "that with other women 
I satiate my foul passions, seeing that the name of wife 
and consort is one deserving of dignity and honour, and 
not one for mere pleasure and lecherousness." I have 
never ,yet read or learned what reply his good wife the 
Empress made him thereto; but little doubt can be she 
was ill content with his golden saying, and did answer 
him from out her heart, and in the words of the most 
part, nay ! of all, married women : "A fig for your dignity 
and honour; pleasure for me! We thrive better on this 
last than on all the other." 

Nor yet must we suppose for an instant that the more 
part of married men of to-day or of any other day, 
which have fair wives, do speak after this wise. For in- 
deed they do not marry and enter into wedlock, nor take 
their wives, but only in order to pass their time pleasure- 
ably and indulge their passion in all fashions and teach 
the same merry precepts, as well for the wanton move- 
ments of their body as for the dissolute and lascivious 
words of their mouth, to the end their love may be the 
better awaked and stirred up thereby. Then, after hav- 
ing thus well instructed and debauched their minds, if 
they do go astray elsewhere, lo! they are for sorely pun- 
ishing them, beating and murdering and putting of them 
to death. 

Truly scant reasonableness is there in this, just as if 
a man should have debauched a poor girl, taking her 





straight from her mother's arms, and have robbed her of 
her honour and maidenhood, and should then, after hav- 
ing his will of her, beat her and constrain her to live 
quite otherwise, in entire chastity, verily an excellent 
and opportune thing to ask! Who is there would not 
condemn such an one, as a man unreasonable and de- 
serving to be made suffer? The same might justly be 
said of many husbands, the which, when all is said and 
done, do more debauch their wives and teach them more 
precepts to lead them into lechery than ever their gal- 
lants use, for they do enjoy more time and leisure there- 
for than lovers can have. But presently, when they 
cease their instructions, the wives most naturally do seek 
a change of hand and master, being herein like a good 
rider, who findeth more pleasure an hundredfold in 
mounting an horse than one that is all ignorant of the 
art. "And alack!" so used the courtesan we but now 
spake of to say, "there is no trade in all the world that is 
more cunning, nor that doth more call for constant prac- 
tice, than that of Venus." Wherefore these husbands 
should be warned not to give suchlike instructions to their 
wives, for that they be far and away too dangerous and 
harmful to the same. Or, if they needs must, and after- 
ward find their wives playing them a knavish trick, let 
them not punish them, forasmuch as it is themselves have 
opened the door thereto. 

Here am I constrained to make a digression to tell of a 
certain married woman, fair and honourable and of good 
station, whom I know, the which did give herself to an 
honourable gentleman, and that more for the jealousy 
she bare toward an honourable lady whom this same 
gentleman did love and keep as his paramour than for 




love. Wherefore, even as he was enjoying her favour, the 
lady said to him : "Now at last, to my great contentment, 
do I triumph over you and over the love you bear to such 
an one." The gentleman made answer to her : "A person 
that is beat down, brought under and trampled on, can 
scarce be said to triumph greatly." The lady taketh um- 
brage at this reply, as touching her honour, and straight- 
way makes answer, "You are very right," and instantly 
puts herself of a sudden to unseat the man, and slip away 
from him. Never of yore was Roman knight or warrior 
so quick and dexterous to mount and remount his horses 
at the gallop as was the lady this bout with her gallant. 
Then doth she handle him in this mode, saying the while, 
"Well then, at present I can declare truly and in good 
conscience I triumph over you, forasmuch as I hold you 
subdued under me." Verily a dame of a gay and wanton 
ambition, and very strange the way in which she did satisfy 
the same! 

I have heard speak of a very fair and honourable lady 
of the great world, much given over to love, who yet was 
so arrogant and proud, and so high of heart, that when 
it came to it, never would she suffer her man to put 
her under him and humble her. For by so doing she 
deemed she wrought a great wrong to the nobility of 
her spirit, and held it a great piece of cowardice to be 
thus humbled and subdued, as in a triumphant conquest 
and enslavement ; but was fain ever to guard the upper 
hand and pre-eminence. And one thing that did greatly 
help her herein was that she would never have dealings 
with one greater in rank than herself, for fear that, 
using his authority and puissance, he might succeed 
in giving the law to her, and so turn, twist about and 



trample her, just as he pleased. Rather for this work 
would she choose her equals and inferiors, to the which 
she could dictate their place and station, their order and 
procedure in the amorous combat, neither more nor less 
than doth a sergeant major to his men-at-arms on the 
day of battle. These orders would she in no wise have 
them overpass, under pain of losing what they most de- 
sire and value, in some cases her love, in others their own 
life. In such wise that never, standing or sitting or lying, 
could they prevail to return back and put upon her the 
smallest humiliation, submission or subservience, which 
she had done them. Hereanent I refer me to the words 
and judgement of such, men and women, as have dealt 
with such loves, stations and modes. 

Anyway the lady we speak of could so order it, that 
no hurt should be done to the dignity she did affect, and 
no offence to her proud heart; for by what I have heard 
from sundry that have been familiar with her, she had 
powers enough to make such ordinances and regulations. 

In good sooth a formidable and diverting woman's 
caprice, and a right curious scruple of a proud spirit. 
Yet was she in the right after all; for in truth is it a 
humiliating and painful thing to be so brought under and 
bent to another's will, and trod down, when one thinks of 
it quickly and alone, and saith to oneself, "Such an one 
hath put me under him and trod me underfoot," for 
underfoot it is, if not literally, at any rate in a manner of 
speaking, and doth amount to the same thing. 

The same lady moreover would never suffer her infe- 
riors to kiss her on the mouth, "seeing it is so," she would 
say, "that the touch and contact of mouth to mouth is 
the most delicate and precious of all contacts, whether 




of the hand or other members." For this reason would 
she not be so approached, nor feel on her own a foul, un- 
clean mouth, and one not meet for hers. 

Now hereanent is yet another question I have known 
some debate: what advantage and overplus of glory hath 
the one, whether man or woman, over his companion, 
whenas they are at these amorous skirmishes and con- 
quests ? 

The man on his side doth set forth the reasons given 
above, to wit, that the victory is much greater when as 
one holdeth his sweet enemy laid low beneath him, and doth 
subjugate, put underfoot and tame her at his ease and 
how he best pleaseth. For there is no Princess or great 
lady so high, but doth, when she is in that case, even 
though it were with an inferior or subordinate, suffer the 
law and domination which Venus hath ordained in her 
statutes ; and for this cause glory and honour do redound 
therefrom to the man in very high measure. 

The woman on the other hand saith : "Yes ! I do confess 
you may well feel triumphant when you do hold me under 
you and put me underfoot. But if it be- only a question 
of keeping the upper station, I likewise do sometimes take 
that in mere sportiveness and of a pretty caprice that 
assaileth me, and not of any constraint. Further, when 
this upperhand position doth not like me, I do make you 
work for me like a very serf or galley-slave, or to put it 
better, make you pull at the collar like a veritable wag- 
gon-horse, and there you are toiling, striving, sweating, 
panting, straining to perform the task and labour I 
choose to exact from you. Meanwhile, for me, lo! I am 
at my ease, and watch your efforts. Sometimes do I make 
merry at your expense, and take my pleasure in seeing 




you in such sore labour, sometimes too I compassionate 
you, just as pleaseth me and according as I am inclined 
to merriment or pity. Then after having well fulfilled 
my pleasure and caprice herein, I do leave my gallant 
there, tired, worn out, weakened and enervate, so he can 
do no more, and hath need of naught so much as of a 
good sleep and a good meal, a strong broth, a restorative, 
or some good soup to hearten him up. For me, for all 
such labours and efforts, I feel no whit the worse, but only 
that I have been right well served at your expense, sir 
gallant, and do experience no hurt; but only wish for 
some other to give me as much again, and to make him 
as much exhausted as you. And after this wise, never 
surrendering, but making my sweet foe surrender to me, 
'tis I bear away the true victory and true glory, seeing 
that in a duello he that doth give in is dishonoured, and 
not he that doth fight on to the last dire extremity." 

So have I heard this tale following told of a fair and 
honourable lady. One time, her husband having wakened 
her from a sound sleep and good rest she was enjoying, 
for to do the thing, when he was done, she said to him, 
"Well! 'tis you did it, not I." And she did clip him ex- 
ceeding tight with arms, hands, feet and legs crossed 
over each other, saying, "I will teach you to wake me up 
another time," and so with might and main and right 
good will, pulling, pushing and shaking her husband, and 
who could in no wise get loose, but who lay there sweat- 
ing and stewing and aweary, and was fain to cry her 
mercy, she did make him so exhausted, and so foredone 
and feeble, that he grew altogether out of breath and did 
swear her a sound oath how another time he would have 
her only at his own time, humour and desire. The tale is 





one better to imagine and picture to oneself than to de- 
scribe in words. 

Such then are the woman's arguments, with sundry 
other she might very well have adduced to boot. And note 
how the humblest strumpet can do as much to a great 
King or Prince, if he have gone with her, and this is a 
great scorn, seeing that the blood royal is held to be the 
most precious can ever be. At any rate is it right care- 
fully guarded and very expensively and preciously accom- 
modated far more than any other man's ! 

This then is what the women do or say. Yet truly is it 
great pity a blood so precious should be polluted and con- 
taminated so foully and unworthily. And indeed it was 
forbid by the law of Moses to waste the same in any wise 
on the ground ; but it is much worse done to intermingle 
it in a most foul and unworthy fashion. Still 'twere too 
much to have them do as did a certain great Lord, of whom 
I have heard tell, who having in his dreams at night pol- 
luted himself among his sheets, had these buried, so scru- 
pulous-minded was he, saying it was a babe issuing there- 
from that was dead, and how that it was pity and a very 
great loss that this blood had not been put into his wife's 
womb, for then it might well be the child would have 

Herein might he very like have been deceived, seeing 
that of a thousand cohabitations the husband hath with 
the wife in the year, 'tis very possible, as I have above 
said, she will not become pregnant thereby, not once in 
all her life, in fact never in the case of some women which 
be eunuch and barren, and can never conceive. Whence 
hath come the error of certain misbelievers, which say 
that marriage was not ordained so much for the procrea- 



tion of children as for pleasure. Now this is ill thought 
and ill said, for albeit a woman doth not grow pregnant 
every time a man have her, 'tis so for some purpose of 
God to us mysterious, and that he wills to punish in this 
wise both man and wife, seeing how the greatest blessing 
God can give us in marriage is a good offspring, and that 
not in mere concubinage. And many women there be that 
take a great delight in having it, but others not. These 
latter will in no wise suffer aught to enter into them, as 
well to avoid foisting on their husbands children that are 
not theirs, as to avoid the semblance of doing them wrong 
and making them cuckolds. 

For by this name of cuckoos (or cuckolds), properly 
appertaining to those birds of Springtide that are so 
called because they do lay their eggs in other birds' nests, 
are men also known by antinomy, 6 when others come to 
lay eggs in their nest, that is in their wives' article, 
which is the same thing as saying, cast their seed into 
them and make them children. 

And this is how many wives think they are doing no 
wrong to their husbands in taking their fill of pleasure, 
provided only they do not become pregnant. Such their 
fine scruples of conscience! So a great lady of whom I 
have heard speak, was used to say to her gallant : "Take 
your pastime as much as ever you will, and give me pleas- 
ure; but on your life, take heed to let naught bedew me, 
else is it a question of life and death for you." 

A like story have I heard told by the Chevalier de San- 
zay of Brittany, a very honourable and gallant gentle- 
man, who, had not death overtaken him at an early age, 
would have been a great seaman, having made a very good 
beginning of his career. And indeed he did bear the 



marks and signs thereof, for he had had an arm carried 
off by a cannon shot at a sea-fight he did engage in. As 
his ill luck would have it, he was taken prisoner of the 
Corsairs and carried off to Algiers. His master who had 
him as his slave, was the head Priest of the Mosque 
in that part, and had a very beauteous wife. This lady 
did fall so deep in love with the said Sanzay that she 
bade him come to have amorous dalliance and delight with 
her, saying how she would treat him very well, better than 
any of her other slaves. But above all else did she 
charge him very straitly, and on his life, or on pain of 
most rigorous imprisonment, not to emit in her body a 
single drop of his seed, forasmuch as, so she declared, she 
must in no wise be polluted and contaminated with Chris- 
tian blood, whereby she thought she would sorely offend 
against the law of her people and their great Prophet 
Mahomet. And further she bade him, that albeit she 
should even order him an hundred times over to do the 
whole thing outright, he should do nothing of the sort, 
for that it would be but the exceeding pleasure wherewith 
she was enraptured that made her say so to him, and in 
no wise the will of her heart and soul. 

The aforesaid Sanzay, in order to get good treatment 
and greater liberty, Christian as he was, did shut his eyes 
this once to his law. For a poor slave, hardly entreated 
and cruelly chained, may well forget his principles now 
and again. So he did obey the lady, and was so prudent 
and so submissive to her order, as that he did minister 
right well to her pleasure. Wherefore the lady did 
love him the better, because he was so submissive to her 
strait and difficult command. Even when she would cry 
to him : "Let go, I say ; I give you full permission !" yet 




would he never once do so, for he was sore afraid of being 
beaten as the Turks use (bastinadoed), as he did often 
see his comrades beaten before his eyes. 

Verily a strange and sore caprice; and herein it would 
seem she did well prevail, both for her own soul's sake 
which was Turk and for the other who was Christian. 
But he swore to me how that never in all his life had he 
been in so sore a strait ! 

He did tell me yet another tale, the most heartsome and 
amusing possible, of a trick she once put upon him. But 
forasmuch as it is not pleasant, I will repeat it not, for 
dread of doing offence to modest ears. 

Later was the same Sanzay ransomed by his friends, 
the which are folk of honour and good estate in Brittany, 
and related to many great persons, as to the Connetable 
de Sanzay, who was greatly attached to his elder brother, 
and did help him much toward his deliverance. Having 
won this, the Chevalier did come to Court, and held much 
discourse to M. d'Estrozze and to me of his adventures 
and of divers matters, and amongst other such he told us 
these stories. 


HAT are we to say now of some husbands 
which be not content only to procure them- 
selves entertainment and wanton pleasure 
with their wives, but do give the desire there- 
for to others also, their companions, friends and the 
like? For so have I known several which do praise 
their wives to these, detail to them their beauties, picture 
to them their members and various bodily parts, recount 
the pleasure that they have with them, and the caresses 




their wives do use towards them, make them kiss, touch 
and try them, and even behold them naked. 

What do such deserve? Why! that they be cuckolded 
right off, as did Gyges, by the means of his ring, to Can- 
daules, 1 King of the Lydians. For the latter, fool that 
he was, having bepraised to Gyges the rare beauty of his 
wife, and at the last having shown her to him stark naked, 
he fell so madly in love with her that he did what seemed 
him good and brought Candaules to his death and made 
himself master of his Kingdom. 'Tis said the wife was 
in such despite and despair at having been so shown by 
her husband to another man, that she did herself constrain 
Gyges to play this traitorous part, saying thus to him: 
"Either must he that hath constrained and counselled you 
to such a thing die by your hand, or else you, who have 
looked on me in my nakedness, must die by the hand of 
another." Of a surety was the said King very ill advised 
so to rouse desire for a fresh dainty, so good and sweet, 
which it rather behoved him to hold very specially dear 
and precious. 

Louis, Duke or Orleans, 2 killed at the Barbette Gate of 
Paris, did the exact opposite. An arrant debaucher was 
he of the ladies of the Court, and that even of the greatest 
among them all. For, having once a very fair and noble 
lady to bed with him, so soon as her husband came into 
his bedchamber to wish him good-morrow, he did promptly 
cover up the lady's head, the other's wife's that is, with 
the sheet, but did uncover all the rest of her body, letting 
him see her all naked and touch her at his pleasure, only 
with express prohibition on his life not to take away the 
linen from off the face, nor to uncover it in any wise, a 
charge he durst not contravene. Then did the Duke ask 




him several times over what he thought of this fair, naked 
body, whereat the other was all astonished and exceeding 
content. At the last he did get his leave to quit the 
chamber, and this he did without having ever had the 
chance to recognize the woman for his own wife. 

If only he had carefully looked over her body and ex- 
amined the same, as several that I have known, he would 
mayhap have recognized her by sundry blemishes. Thus 
is it a good thing for men to go over sometimes and ob- 
serve their wives' bodies. 

She, after her husband was well gone, was questioned 
of M. d'Orleans, if she had felt any alarm or fear. I 
leave you to imagine what she said thereto, and all the 
trouble and anguish she was in by the space of a quarter 
of an hour, seeing all that lacked for her undoing was 
some little indiscretion, or the smallest disobedience her 
husband might have committed in lifting the sheet. 'Twas 
doubtless M. d'Orleans' orders, but still he would surely, 
on his making discovery, have straightway slain him to 
stay him of the vengeance he would have wrought on his 

And the best of it was that, being the next night to bed 
with his wife, he did tell her how M. d'Orleans had let him 
see the fairest naked woman he had ever beheld, but as to 
her face, that he could give no news thereof, seeing the 
sight of it had been forbid him. I leave you to imagine 
what the lady must have thought within her heart. Now 
of this same lady and M. d'Orleans 'tis said did spring 
that brave and valiant soldier, the Bastard of Orleans, 
the mainstay of France and scourge of England, from 
whom is descended the noble and generous race of the 
Comtes de Dunois. 




However to return to our tales of husband too ready to 
give others sight of their wives naked, I know one who, on 
a morning, a comrade of his having gone to see him in his 
chamber as he was dressing, did show him his wife quite 
naked, lying all her length fast asleep, having herself 
thrown her bed-clothes off her, it being very hot weather. 
So he did draw aside the curtain half way, in such wise 
that the rising sun shining upon her, he had leisure to 
contemplate well and thoroughly at his ease, which doing 
he beheld naught but what was right fair and perfect. 
On all this beauty then he did feast his eyes, not indeed 
as long as he would, but as long as he could; and after, 
the husband and he went forth to the Palace. 

The next day, the gentleman who was an ardent lover 
of this same honourable lady, did report to her the sight 
he had seen, and even described many things he had noted. 
He said further it was the husband which did urge him 
thereto, and he and no other had drawn the curtain for 
him to see. The lady, out of the despite she then con- 
ceived against her husband, did let herself go, and so gave 
herself to his friend on this only account, a thing which 
all his service and devotion had not before been able to 

I knew once a very great Lord, who, one morning, wish- 
ing to go an-hunting, and his gentlemen having come to 
find him at his rising, even as they were booting him, and 
he had his wife lying by him and holding him right close 
to her, he did so suddenly lift the coverlet she had no time 
to move away from where she rested, in such wise that 
they all saw her as much as they pleased even to the half 
of her body. Then with a loud laugh did the Lord cry 
to these gentlemen there present: "Well, well! sirs, have 





not I let you see enough and to spare of my good wife?" 
But so vexed and chagrined was she at it all that she did 
conceive a great grudge against him therefor, and above 
all for the way she had been surprised. And it may well 
be, she did pay it back to him with interest later on. 

I know yet another of these great Lords, who learning 
that a friend and kinsman of his was in love with his wife, 
whether to make him the more envious or to make him 
taste all the despite and despair he might conceive at the 
thought of the other possessing so fair a woman, and he 
having never so much as a chance of touching her, did 
show her him one morning, when he had come to see him, 
the pair being a-bed together. Yea ! he did even worse, 
for he did set about to embrace her before his eyes, as 
though she had been altogether in a privy place. Fur- 
ther he kept begging of his friend to see, saying he was 
doing it all to gratify him. I leave you to imagine whether 
the lady did not find in such conduct of her husband excuse 
to do likewise in all ways with the friend, and of good con- 
science, and whether he was not right well punished by 
being made to bear the horns. 

I have heard speak of yet another, likewise a great 
Lord, who did the same with his wife before a great Prince, 
his master, but, 'twas by his prayer and commandment, 
for he was one that took delight in this form of gratifica- 
tion. Now are not such like persons blameworthy, for 
that after being pandars to their own wives, they will 
after be their executioners too? 

It is never expedient for a man to expose his wife, any 
more than his lands, countries or places. And I may cite 
an example hereof which I did learn from a great Cap- 
tain. It concerns the late M. de Savoye, who did dissuade 




the late King of France, 3 when on his return from Poland 
he was passing through Lombardy, and counselled him not 
to go to Milan or enter therein, alleging that the King of 
Spain might take umbrage thereat. But this was not the 
real cause at all ; rather was he afraid lest the King being 
once there and visiting all quarters of the city, and be- 
holding its beauty and riches and grandeur, might be 
assailed by an overwhelming desire to have it again and 
reconquer it by fair and honest right, as had done his 
predecessors. Now this was the true reason, as a great 
Prince said who knew the fact from our late King, who 
for his part quite well understood what the restriction 
meant. However, to be complaisant to M. de Savoye, and 
to cause no offence on the part of the King of Spain, he 
took his march so as to pass by the city, albeit he had 
all the wish in the world to go thither, by what he did me 
the honour to tell me after his return to Lyons. In this 
transaction we cannot but deem M. de Savoye to have 
been more of a Spaniard than a Frenchman. 

I deem those husbands likewise very much to blame who 
after having received their life by favour of their wives, 
are so little grateful therefor, as that for any suspicion 
they have of their intriguing with other men, do treat 
them exceeding harshly, to the extent of making attempt 
upon their lives. I have heard speak of a Lord against 
whose life sundry conspirators having conspired and plot- 
ted, his wife by dint of her prayers did turn them from 
their purpose, and saved her husband from being assas- 
sinated. But nevertheless later on was she very ill re- 
warded by him and entreated most cruelly. 

I have seen likewise a gentleman who, having been ac- 
cused and brought to trial for very bad performance of 




his duty in succouring his General in a battle, so much so 
that he had left him to be killed without any help or suc- 
cour at all, was nigh to be sentenced and condemned to 
have his head cut off, and this notwithstanding 20,000 
crowns the which he did give to save his life. Thereupon 
his wife spake to a great Lord holding high place in the 
world, and lay with him by permission and at the suppli- 
cation of the said husband; and so what money had not 
been able to do, this did her beauty and fair body effect, 
and she did save him his life and liberty. Yet after he 
did treat her so ill as that nothing could be worse. Of a 
surety husbands of the sort, so cruel and savage, are very 
pitiful creatures. 

Others again have I known who did quite otherwise, for 
that they have known how to show gratitude to those that 
helped them, and have all their life long honoured the 
good dame that had saved them from death. 

There is yet another sort of cuckolds, those who are not 
content to have been suspicious and difficult all their life, 
but when going to leave this world and on the point of 
death, are so still. Of this sort knew I one who had a very 
fair and honourable lady to wife, but yet had not always 
given her all to him alone. When now he was like to die, 
he said to her repeatedly: "Ah! wife mine, I am going to 
die ! And would to God you could have kept me company, 
and you and I could have gone together into the other 
world ! My death had not then been so hateful to me, and 
I should have taken it in better part." But the lady, who 
was still very fair and not more than thirty-seven years 
old, was by no means fain to follow him, nor agree with 
him in this. Nor yet was she willing to play the mad- 
woman for his sake, as we read did Evadne, daughter of 




Mars and Thebe and wife of Capaneus, 4 the which did 
love her husband so ardently that, he having died, so soon 
as ever his body was cast on the fire, she threw herself 
thereon all alive as she was, and was burned and con- 
sumed along with him, in her great constancy and strength 
of purpose, and so did accompany him in his death. 

Alcestis 5 did far better yet, for having learned by an 
oracle that her husband Admetus, King of Thessaly, was 
to die presently, unless his life were redeemed by the death 
of some other of his friends, she did straightway devote 
herself to a sudden death, and so saved her husband alive. 

Nowadays are no women of this kindly sort left, who 
are fain to go of their own pleasure into the grave before 
their husbands, and not survive them. No! such are no 
more to be found; the dams that bare them are dead, as 
say the horse-dealers of Paris of horses, when no more 
good ones are to be got. 

And this is why I did account the husband, whose case 
I but now adduced, ill-advised to make such proposals to 
his wife and odious so to invite her to death, as though it 
had been some merry feast to invite her to. It was an ar- 
rant piece of jealousy that did make him so speak, and the 
despite he did feel within himself, he would presently ex- 
perience yonder in the lower world, when he should see 
his wife, whom he had so excellently trained, in the arms 
of some lover of hers or some new husband. 

What a strange sort of jealousy was this her husband 
must have been seized with for the nonce, and strange how 
he would keep telling her again and again how if he should 
recover, he would no more suffer at her hands what he 
had suffered aforetime ! Yet, so long as he was alive and 




well, he had never been attacked by the like feelings, but 
ever let her do at her own good pleasure. 

The gallant Tancred 6 did quite otherwise, the same 
who in old days did so signalise his valour in the Holy 
War. Being at the point of death, and his wife beside 
him making moan, together with the Count of Tripoly, 
he did beg the twain when that he was dead, to wed one 
another, and charged his wife to obey him therein, the 
which they afterward did. 

Mayhap he had observed some loving dalliance betwixt 
them during his lifetime. For she may well have been as 
very a harlot as her mother, the Countess of Anjou, who 
after the Comte de Bretagne had had her long while, went 
unto Philip, 7 the King of France, who did treat her the 
same fashion, and had of her a bastard daughter called 
Cicile, whom after he did give in marriage to this same 
valorous Tancred, who by reason of his noble exploits did 
of a surety little deserve to be cuckold. 

An Albanian, having been condemned in Southern lands 
to be hung for some offence, being in the service of the 
King of France, when he was to be led out to his punish- 
ment, did ask to see his wife, who was a very fair and 
lovable woman, and bid her farewell. Then while he was 
saying his farewell and in the act of kissing her, lo! he 
did bite her nose right off and tear it clean out of her 
pretty face. And the officers thereupon questioning him 
why he had done this horrible thing to his wife, he replied 
he had done it out of sheer jealousy, "seeing she is very 
fair, for the which after my death I wot well she will 
straightway be sought after and given up to some other 
of my comrades, for I know her to be exceeding lecherous 
and one to forget me without more ado. I am fain there- 




fore she bear me in memory after my death, and weep and 
be sorry. If she is not so for my death's sake, at least 
will she be sore grieved at being disfigured, and none of 
my comrades will have the pleasure of her I have had." 
Verily an appalling instance of a jealous husband! 

I have heard speak of others who, feeling themselves 
old, failing, wounded, worn out and near to death, have 
out of sheer despite and jealousy privily cut short their 
mates' days, even when they have been fair and beauteous 

Now as to such strange humours on the part of these 
cruel and tyrannic husbands which do thus put their wives 
to death, I have heard the question disputed, to wit, 
whether it is permitted women, when they do perceive or 
suspect the cruelty and murder their husbands are fain 
to practise against them, to gain the first hand and an- 
ticipate their aggressors and so save their own lives, mak- 
ing the others play the part first and sending these on in 
front to make ready house and home in the other world. 

I have heard it maintained the answer should be yes, 
that they may do so, not certainly according to God's 
law, for thereby is all murder forbid, as I have said, but 
by the world's way of thinking, well enough. This opinion 
men base on the saying, better 'tis to be beforehand than 
behind. For no doubt everyone is bound to take heed for 
his own life; and seeing God hath given it us, we must 
guard it well till he shall call us away at our death. 
Otherwise, knowing their death to be planned, to go head- 
first into the same, and not to escape from it when they 
can, is to kill their own selves, a crime which God doth 
very greatly abhor. Wherefore 'tis ever the best plan to 
send them on ahead as envoys, and parry their assault, as 




did Blanche d'Auverbruckt to her husband, the Sieur de 
Flavy, Captain of Compiegne and Governor thereof, the 
same who did betray the maid of Orleans, and was cause 
of her death and undoing. Now this lady Blanche, learn- 
ing that her husband did plot to have her drowned, got 
beforehand with him, and by aid of his barber did smother 
and strangle him, for which deed our King Charles VII. 8 
gave her instantly his pardon; though for the obtaining 
of this 'tis like the husband's treason went for much, 
more indeed than any other reason. These facts are to 
be found in the Chronicles of France, and particularly in 
those of Guyenne. 

The same was done by a certain Madame de la Borne, 
in the reign of Francis I. 9 This lady did accuse and 
inform against her husband for sundry follies committed 
and crimes, it may be monstrous crimes, he had done 
against her and other women. She had him thrown into 
prison, pleaded against him and finally got his head cut 
off. I have heard my grandmother tell the tale, who used 
to say she was of good family and a very handsome 
woman. Well ! she at any rate did get well beforehand ! 

Queen Jeanne of Naples, 10 the First of that name, did 
the like toward the Infanta of Majorca, her third hus- 
band, whose head she did cause to be cut off for the reason 
I have named in the Discourse dealing with him. But it 
may well be she did also fear him, and was fain to be rid 
of him the first. Herein was she much in the right, and 
all women in like case, to act thus when they are sus- 
picious of their gallants' purpose. 

I have heard speak of many ladies that have bravely 
escaped in this fashion. Nay ! I have known one, who 
having been found by her husband with her lover, he said 




never a word to one or the other, but departed in fierce 
anger, and left her there in the chamber with her lover, 
sore amazed and in much despair and doubt. Still the 
lady had spirit enough to declare, "He has done naught 
nor said naught to me this time; but I am sore afraid he 
doth bear rancour and secret spite. Now if I were only 
sure he was minded to do me to death, I would take 
thought how to make him feel death the first." Fortune 
was so kind to her after some while that the husband did 
die of himself; And hereof was she right glad, for never 
after his discovery had he made her good cheer, no matter 
what attention and consideration she showed him. 

Yet another question is there in dispute as concerning 
these same madmen, these furious husbands and perilous 
cuckolds, to wit on which of the two they set and work 
their vengeance, whether on their wives, or their wives' 

Some there be which have declared, "on the woman 
only," basing their doctrine on the Italian proverb morta 
la bastia, morta la rabbia o vereno "when the beast is 
dead, the madness, or venom, is dead." For they think, 
so it would seem, to be quite cured of their hurt when 
they have once killed her who caused the pain, herein 
doing neither more nor less than they who have been bit 
or stung by a scorpion. The most sovran remedy these 
have is to take the creature, kill and crush it flat, and 
put it on the bite or wound it hath made. The same are 
ready to say, and do commonly say, 'tis the women who 
are the more deserving of punishment. I here refer to 
great ladies and of high rank, and not to humble, com- 
mon and of low degree. For suchlike it is, by their lovely 
charms, their confidences, their orders given and soft 




words spoken, who do provoke the first skirmishes and 
bring on the battle, whereas the men do but follow their 
lead. But such as do call for war and begin it, are more 
deserving of blame than such as only fight in self-defence. 
For oftentimes men adventure themselves in the like dan- 
gerous places and on such high emprize, only when chal- 
lenged by the ladies, who do signify in divers fashions 
their predilection. Just as we see in a great, good, well- 
guarded frontier town, it is exceeding difficult to attack 
the same unawares or surprise it, unless there be some 
secret undertaking among some of the inhabitants, and 
some that do encourage the assailants to the attempt and 
entice them on and give them a hand of succour. 

Now, forasmuch as women are something more fragile 
than men, they must be forgiven, and it should be remem- 
bered how that, when once they have begun to love and 
set love in their hearts, they will achieve it at what cost 
soever, not content, not all of them that is, to brood 
over it within, and little by little waste away, and grow 
dried up and sickly, and spoil their beauty therefor, 
which is the reason they do long to be cured of it and get 
pleasure therefrom, and not die in ferret's fashion, as the 
saying is. 11 

Of a surety I have known not a few fair ladies of this 
humour, who have been foremost to make love to the other 
sex, even sooner than the men, and for divers accounts, 
some for that they see them handsome, brave, valiant 
and lovable; others to cozen them out of a sum of hard 
cash; others to get of them pearls and precious stones, 
and dresses of cloth of gold and of silver. And I have seen 
them take as great pains to get these things as a mer- 
chant to sell his commodities, and indeed they say the 





woman who takes presents, sells herself. Some again, to 
win Court favour ; others to win the like with men of the 
law. Thus several fair dames I have known, who though 
having no right on their side, yet did get it over to them 
by means of their fleshly charms and bodily beauty. Yet 
others again, only to live delicately by the giving of their 

Many women have I seen so enamoured of their lovers, 
that they would, so to speak, chase them and run amain 
after them, causing the world to cast scorn at them 

I once knew a very fair lady so enamoured of a Lord of 
the great world, that whereas commonly lovers do wear 
the colours of their ladies, this one on the contrary would 
be wearing those of her gallant. I could quite well name 
the colours, but that would be telling over much. 

I knew yet another, whose husband, having affronted 
her lover at a tourney which was held at Court, the while 
he was in the dancing-hall and was celebrating his tri- 
umph, she did out of despite dress herself in man's clothes 
and went to meet her lover and offer him her favours in 
masquerade, for so enamoured of him was she, as that 
she was like to die thereof. 

I knew an honourable gentleman, and one of the least 
spoken against at Court, who did one day manifest desire 
to be lover to a very fair and honourable lady, if ever 
there was one; but whereas she made many advances on 
her side, he on his stood on guard for many reasons and 
accounts. But the said lady, having set her love on him, 
and having cast the die this way at whatsoever hazard, as 
she did herself declare, did never cease to entice him to 
her by the fairest words of love that ever she could speak, 




saying amongst other things: "Nay! but suffer at any 
rate that I love you, if you will not love me; and look 
not to my deserts, but rather to the love and passion I 
do bear you," though in actual truth she did outbal- 
ance the gentleman on the score of perfections. In this 
case what could the gentleman have done but love her, as 
she was very fain to love him, and serve her ; then ask the 
salary and reward of his service. This he had in due 
course, as is but reasonable that whoever doth a favour 
be paid therefor. 

I could allege an infinite number of such ladies, which 
do seek toward lovers rather than are sought. And I 
will tell you why they have more blame than their lovers. 
Once they have assailed their man, they do never leave 
off till they gain their end and entice him by their alluring 
looks, their charms, the pretty made-up graces they do 
study to display in an hundred thousand fashions, by the 
subtle bepainting of their face, if it be not beautiful, their 
fine head-dresses, the rich and rare fashions of wearing 
their hair, so aptly suited to their beauty, their magnifi- 
cent, stately costumes, and above all by their dainty and 
half-wanton words, as well as by their pretty, frolic ges- 
tures and familiarities, and lastly by gifts and presents. 
So this is how men are taken: and being once taken, needs 
must they take advantage of their captors. Wherefore 
'tis maintained their husbands are fairly bound to wreak 
their vengeance on them. 

Others hold the husband should take his satisfaction of 
the men, when that he can, just as one would of such as 
lay siege to a town. For they it is are the first to sound 
the challenge and call on the place to surrender, the first 
to make reconnaissances and approaches, the first to 




throw up entrenchments of gabions and raise bastions 
and dig trenches, the first to plant batteries and advance 
to the assault, and the first to open negotiations ; and 
even so is it, they allege, with lovers. For like doughty, 
valiant and determined soldiers they do assault the fort- 
ress of ladies' chastity, till these, after all fashions of as- 
sault and modes of importunity have been duly observed, 
are constrained to make signal of capitulation and receive 
their pleasant foes within their fortifications. Wherein 
methinks they are not so blameworthy as they wauld fain 
make out ; for indeed to be rid of an importunate beggar 
is very difficult without leaving somewhat of one's own 
behind. So have I seen many who by their long service 
and much perseverance have at length had their will of 
their mistresses, who at the first would not, so to say, 
have given them their cvl a baiser, constraining them, or 
at any rate some of them, to this degree that out of pure 
pity, and tear in eye, they did give them their way. Just 
as at Paris a man doth very often give an alms to the 
beggars about an inn door more by reason of their im- 
portunity than from devotion or the love of God. The 
same is the case with many women, who yield rather for 
being over-importuned than because they are really in 
love as also with great and powerful wooers, men whom 
they do fear and dare not refuse because of their high 
authority, dreading to do them a displeasure and there- 
after to receive scandal and annoyance of them or a de- 
liberate affront or great hurt and sore disparagement to 
their honour. For verily have I seen great mischiefs 
happen in suchlike conjunctions. 

This is why those evil-minded husbands, which take 
such delight in blood and murder and evil entreatment of 



their wives, should not be so hasty, but ought first to make 
a secret inquiry into all matters, albeit such knowledge 
may well be grievous to them and very like to make them 
scratch their head for its sore itching thereat, and this 
even though some, wretches that they are, do give their 
wives all the occasion in the world to go astray. 

Thus I once knew a great Prince of a foreign country, 
who had married a very fair and honourable lady. Yet 
did he very often leave her to go with another woman, 
which was supposed to be a famous courtesan, though 
others thought she was a lady of honour whom he had 
debauched. But not satisfied with this, when he had her 
to sleep with him, it was in a low-roofed chamber under- 
neath that of his wife and underneath her bed. Then 
when he was fain to embrace his mistress, he was not con- 
tent with the wrong he was doing his lady already, but 
in derision and mockery would with a half-pike knock two 
or three blows on the floor and shout up to his wife: 
"A health to you, wife mine !" This scorn and insult was 
repeated several days, and did so anger his wife that out 
of despair and desire of vengeance she did accost a very 
honourable gentleman one day and said to him privily: 
"Sir! I am fain you should have your pleasure of me; 
otherwise do I know of means whereby to undo you." 
The other, right glad of so fine an adventure, did in no 
wise refuse her. Wherefore, so soon as her husband had 
his fair leman in his arms, and she likewise her fond lover, 
and he would cry, "A health!" to her, then would she 
answer him in the same coin, crying, "And I drink to 
you!" or else, "I pledge you back, good Sir !" 

These toasts and challenges and replies, so made and 
arranged as to suit with the acts of each, continued some 




longish while, till at length the Prince, a wily and sus- 
picious man, did suspect something. So setting a watch, 
he did discover how his wife was gaily cuckolding him all 
the while, and making good cheer and drinking toasts 
just as well as he was, by way of retaliation and revenge. 
Then having made sure it was verily so, he did quick alter 
and transform his comedy into a tragedy; and having 
challenged her for the last time with his toast, and she 
having rendered him back his answer and as good as he 
gave, he did instantly mount upstairs, and forcing and 
breaking down the door, rushes in and reproaches her 
for her ill-doing. But she doth make answer on her side 
in this wise, "I know well I am a dead woman. So kill me 
bodily; I am not afraid of death, and do welcome it 
gladly, now I am avenged on you, seeing I have made you 
cuckold. For you did give me great occasion thereto, 
without which I had never gone astray. I had vowed all 
fidelity to you, and never should I have broken my troth 
for all the temptations in the whole world. Nay! you 
were no wise worthy of so honest a wife as I. So kill 
me straightway; but if there is any pity in your hand, 
pardon, I beseech you, this poor gentleman, who of him- 
self is no whit to blame, for I did invite him and urge 
him to help me to my vengeance." The Prince, over cruel 
altogether, doth ruthlessly kill the twain. But what else 
should this unhappy Princess have done in view of the 
indignities and insults of her husband, if not what, in 
despair of any other succour in all the world, she did? 
Some there be will excuse her, some accuse her; many 
arguments and good reasons may be alleged thereanent 
on either side. 

In the Cent Nouvelles of the Queen of Navarre is an 





almost similar tale, and a very fine one to boot, of the 
Queen of Naples, who in like manner did revenge herself 
on the King her husband. Yet 'Fas the end thereof not 
so tragical. 


i|O now let us have done with these demons and 
mad, furious cuckolds and speak no more of 
them, for that they be odious and unpleasing, 
seeing I should never have finished if I should 
tell of them all, and moreover the subject is neither good 
nor pleasant. Let us discourse a while of kindly cuckolds, 
such as are good fellows, of placable humour, men easy 
to deal with and of a holy patience, well humoured and 
readily appeased, that shut the eyes and are good- 
natured fools. 

Now of these some are predestined of their very nature 
to be so, some know how it is before they marry, to wit, 
know that their ladies, widows or maids, have already gone 
astray ; others again know naught of it at all, but marry 
them on trust, on the word of their fathers and mothers, 
their family and friends. 

I have known not a few which have married women and 
girls of loose life, whom they well knew had been passed 
in review by sundry Kings, Princes, Lords, gentlemen and 
other folk. Yet for love of them, or attracted by their 
goods, jewels and money that they had won at the trade 
of love, have made no scruple to wed them. However I 
propose here to speak only of the girls of this sort. 
I have heard speak of a mistress of a very great and 
sovereign Prince, who being enamoured of a certain 




gentleman, and in such wise behaving herself toward him 
as to have received the first fruits of his love, was so 
desirous thereof that she did keep him a whole month in 
her closet, feeding him on fortifying foods, savoury soups, 
dainty and comforting meats, the better to distil and draw 
off his substance. Thus having made her first apprentice- 
ship with him, did she continue her lessons under him so 
long as he lived, and under others too. Afterward she 
did marry at the age of forty-five years to a Lord, 1 who 
found naught to say against her, but rather was right 
proud of so rare a marriage as he had with her. 

Boccaccio repeats a proverb which was current in his 
day to the effect that a mouth once kissed (others have it 
differently) is never out of luck; her fortune is like the 
moon, and waxeth ever anew. This proverb he doth quote 
in connection with a story he relates of that fair daughter 
of the Sultan of Egypt who did pass and repass by the 
weapons of nine different lovers, one after the other, at 
the least three thousand times in all. At long last was 
she delivered to the King of Garba a pure virgin, that is, 
'twas so pretended, as pure as she was at the first promised 
to him; and he found no objection to make, but was very 
well pleased. The tale thereof is a right good one. 

I have heard a great man declare that, with many great 
men, though not all it may be supposed, no heed is paid in 
case of women of this sort to the fact, though three or four 
lovers have passed them through their hands, before they 
make them their wives. This he said anent of a story of a 
great Lord who was deeply enamoured of a great lady, 
and one of something higher quality than himself, and she 
loved him back. However there fell out some hindrance 
that they did not wed as they did expect one with the 





other. Whereupon this great nobleman, the which I have 
just spoken of, did straightway ask: "Did he mount the 
little jade, anyway?" And when he was answered, "no!" 
in the other's opinion and by what men told him, "So 
much the worse then," he added, "for at any rate they had 
had so much satisfaction one of the other, and no harm 
would have been done !" For among the great no heed is 
paid to these rules and scruples of maidenhood, seeing that 
for these grand alliances everything must be excused. 
Only too delighted are they, the good husbands and gentle 
suckling cuckolds. 

At the time when King Charles did make the circuit of 
his Kingdom, there was left behind in a certain good town, 
which I could name very well had I so wished, a female 
child whereof an unmarried girl of a very good house had 
been delivered. So the babe was given to a poor woman 
to nurse and rear, and there was advanced to her a sum of 
two hundred crowns for her pains. The said poor woman 
did nurse the infant and manage it so well that in fifteen 
years' time the girl grew up very fair, and gave herself to 
a life of pleasure. For never another thought had she of 
her mother, who in four months after wedded a very great 
nobleman. Ah! how many such have I known of either 
sex, where the like things have been, and no man suspect- 
ing aught! 

I once heard tell, when I was in Spain, of a great Lord 
of Andalusia who had married a sister of his to another 
very great Lord, and who three days after the marriage 
was consummated, came and said to him thus : Senor her- 
mano, agora que soys cazado con my herman, y I'haveys 
bien godida solo, yo le hago aher que siendo hija, tal y tal 
gozaron d'ella. De lo passado no tenga cuydado, que poca 




cosa es. Dell futuro quartate, que mas y mucho a vos toca. 
(My Lord and brother, now that you are married to my 
sister and alone enjoy her favours, it behooves you to 
know that when she was yet unwed, such and such an one 
did have her. Take no heed of the past, for truly 'tis but 
a small thing ; but beware of the future, seeing now it doth 
touch you much more close), as much as to say that 
what is done is done, and there is no need to talk about it, 
but it were well to be careful of the future, for this is 
more nearly concerned with a man's honour than is the 

Some there be are of this humour, thinking it not so ill 
to be cuckold in the bud, but very ill in the flower, and 
there is some reason in this. 

I have likewise heard speak of a great Lord of a foreign 
land, which had a daughter who was one of the fairest 
women in the world ; and she being sought in marriage by 
another great Lord who was well worthy of her was 
bestowed on him by her father. But before ever he could 
let her go forth the house, he was fain to try her him- 
self, declaring he would not easily let go so fine a mount 
and one which he had so carefully trained, without himself 
having first ridden thereon, and found out how she could 
go for the future. I know not whether it be true, but I 
have heard say it is, and that not only he did make the 
essay, but another comely and gallant gentleman to boot. 
And yet did not the husband thereafter find anything 
bitter, but all as sweet as sugar. He had been very hard 
to please if he had otherwise, for she was one of the fairest 
dames in all the world. 

I have heard the like tales told of many other fathers, 
and in especial of one very great nobleman, with regard to 




their daughters. For herein are they said to have shown 
no more conscience than the Cock in Aesop's Fable. This 
last, when he was met by the Fox, who did threaten him 
and declare he purposed to kill him, did therefore proceed 
to rehearse all the benefits he wrought for mankind and 
above all else the fair and excellent poultry that came from 
him. To this the fox made answer, "Ha, ha!" said he, 
"that is just my quarrel with you, sir gallant ! For so 
lecherous are you, you make no difficulty to tread your 
own daughters as readily as the other hens," and for this 
crime did put him to death. Verily a stern and artful 

I leave you then to imagine what some maids may do 
with their lovers, for never yet was there a maid but 
had or was fain to have a lover, and that some there be 
that brothers, cousins and kinsfolk have done the like with. 

In our own days Ferdinand, King of Naples, 2 knew thus 
in wedlock his own aunt, daughter of the King of Castile, 
at the age of 13 or 14 years, but this was by dispensation 
of the Pope. Difficulties were raised at the time as to 
whether this ought to be or could be so given. Herein 
he but followed the example of Caligula, the Roman Em- 
peror, who did debauch and have intercourse with each of 
his sisters, one after the other. And above and beyond 
all the rest, he did love exceedingly the youngest, named 
Drusilla, whom when only a lad he had deflowered. And 
later, being then married to one Lucius Cassius Longinus, 
a man of consular rank, he did take her from her husband, 
and lived with her openly, as if she had been his wife, so 
much so indeed that having fallen sick on one occasion, he 
made her heiress of all his property, including the 
Empire itself. But it fell out she died, which he did 



grieve for so exceedingly sore that he made proclamation 
to close the Courts and stay all other business, in order to 
constrain the people to make public mourning along with 
him. And for a length of time he wore his hair long and 
beard untrimmed for her sake ; and when he was harangu- 
ing the Senate, the People or his soldiers, never swore but 
by the name of Drusilla. 

As for his other sisters, when that he had had his fill of 
them, he did prostitute them and gave them up to his chief 
pages which he had reared up and known in very foul 
fashion. Still even so he had done them no outrageous ill, 
seeing they were accustomed thereto, and that it was a 
pleasant injury, as I have heard it called by some maids on 
being deflowered and some women who had been ravished. 
But over and above this, he put a thousand indignities 
upon them; he sent them into exile, he took from them 
all their rings and jewels to turn into money, having 
wasted and ill guided all the vast sums Tiberius had left 
him. Natheless did the poor girls, having after his death 
come back from banishment, and seeing the body of their 
brother ill and very meanly buried under a few clods of 
earth, have it disinterred and burned and duly buried as 
honourably as they could. Surely a good and noble deed 
on the part of sisters to a brother so graceless and un- 
natural ! 

The Italian, by way of excusing the illicit love of his 
countryman, says that quando messer Bernardo, il bu- 
ciacchio sta in colera et in sua rabbia, non riceve legge, 
et non perdona a nissuna dama, "when messer Bernardo, 
the young ox, stand up in anger and in his passion, he 
will receive no laws and spare no lady." 

We can find plenty of examples amongst the Ancients of 




such as have done the same. However to come back to 
our proper subject, I have heard a tale of one who having 
married a fair and honourable damsel to one of his friends, 
and boasting that he had given him a right good and noble 
mount, sound, clean and free from knots and malanders, 
as he put it, and that he lay the more under obligation to 
him therefor, he was answered by one of the company, 
who said aside to one of his comrades : "That is all quite 
true, if only she had not been mounted and ridden so 
young and far too soon. For it has made her a bit 
foulee in front." 

But likewise I would fain ask these noble husbands 
whether, if such mounts had not often some fault, some 
little thing wrong with them, some defect or blemish, they 
would make the match with others who are more deserving 
than they, like horse-dealers who do all they can to get 
rid of their blemished horses, but always with those that 
know naught of the matter. Even so, as I have heard 
many a father say, 'tis a very fine riddance to be quit 
of a blemished daughter, or one that doth begin to be 
so, or seems by her looks like to be. 

How many damsels of the great world I know who have 
not carried their maidenhood to the couch of Hymen, but 
who have for all that been well instructed of their mothers, 
or other their kinswomen and friends, right cunning pimps 
as they are, to make a good show at this first assault. 
Divers are the means and contrivances they do resort to 
with artful subtleties, to make their husbands think it well 
and convince them never a breach has been made before. 
The most part resort to the making of a desperate resist- 
ance and defence at this point of attack, and do fight 
obstinately to the last extremity. Whereof there are some 




husbands much delighted, for they do firmly believe they 
have had all the honour and made the first conquest, like 
right determined and intrepid soldiers. Then next morn- 
ing they have fine tales to tell, how they have strutted it 
like little cocks or cockerels that have eat much millet- 
seed in the evening, making many boasts to their com- 
rades and friends, and even mayhap to the very men who 
have been the first to invade the fortress, unwittingly to 
them. Whereat these do laugh their fill in their sleeves, 
and with the women their mistresses, and boast they did 
their part well too, and gave the damsels as good as they 

Some suspicious husbands there be however who hold all 
this resistance as of bad augury, and take no satisfaction 
in seeing them so recalcitrant. Like one I know who 
asked his wife why did she thus play the prude and make 
difficulties, and if she disdained him so much as all that; 
but she thinking to make excuse and put off the fault on 
something else than disdain, told him 'twas because she 
was afraid he would hurt her. To this he retorted, "Now 
have you given proof positive, for no hurt can be known 
without having been first suffered." But she was wily, 
and denied, saying she had heard tell of it by some of her 
companions who had been married, and had so advised 
her. And, "Hum! fine advice truly and fine words!" was 
all he could say. 

Another remedy these women recommend is this, next 
morning after their wedlock to show their linen stained 
with drops of blood, the which the poor girls shed in the 
cruel work of their deflowering. So is it done in Spain, 
where they do publicly display from the window the afore- 





said linen, crying aloud, "Virgen la tenemos," "we hold 
her for a maid." 

Likewise of a surety I have heard say that at Viterbo 3 
this custom is similarly observed. Moreover, seeing such 
damsels as have previously affronted the battle cannot 
make this display of their own blood, they have devised 
the plan, as I have heard say, and as several young 
courtesans at Rome have themselves assured me, the 
better to sell their maidenhood, of staining the said linen 
with pigeon's blood, which is the most meet of all for the 
purpose. So next morning the husband doth see the 
blood and doth feel a great satisfaction thereof, and doth 
believe firmly 'tis the virginal blood of his wife. He 
thinks himself a gallant and happy man, but he is sore 
deceived all the while. 

Hereanent will I repeat the following merry tale of a 
gentleman who had his string tied in a knot the first night 
of his wedlock ; but the bride, who was not one of the very 
fair and high-born sort, fearing he would be sore enraged 
thereat, did not fail, by advice of her good comrades, 
matrons, kinswomen and good friends, to have the bit of 
linen stained as usual. But the mischief for her was that 
the husband was so sore tied that he could do naught 
at all, albeit she thought no harm to make him a very 
enticing display and deck herself for the assault as well 
as ever she could, and lie conveniently without playing the 
prude or making any show of reluctance or deviltry. At 
least so the lookers-on, hid near by according to custom, 
did report; and indeed she did so the better to conceal 
the loss of her maidenhood elsewhere. But for all the red 
linen, he had really done naught whatever. 

At night, by established custom, the midnight repast 




having been carried in, there was as usual a worthy guest 
ready to advise that in the customary wedding scramble 
they should filch away the sheet, which they did find finely 
stained with blood. This was instantly displayed and all 
in attendance were assured by loud cries she was no longer 
a maid, and here was the evidence her virgin membrane 
had been deforced and ruptured. The husband, who was 
quite certain he had done naught, but who nevertheless 
was fain to pose as a brave and valiant champion, re- 
mained sore astounded and wot not what this stained 
sheet might mean. Only after sufficient pondering, he 
did begin to suspect some knavish, cunning harlot's trick, 
yet never breathed a word. 

The bride and her confidantes were likewise sore 
troubled and astounded for that the husband had so 
missed fire, and that their business was not turning out 
better. Nothing however was suffered to appear till after 
a week's time, when lo ! the husband found his knot untied, 
and did straight let fly with might and main. Whereat 
being right glad and remembering naught else, he went 
forth and published to all the company how in all good 
conscience he had now given proof of his prowess and 
made his wife a true wife and a proper married woman; 
but did confess that up till then he had been seized with 
absolute impotence to do aught. Hereupon those present 
at the time did hold diverse discourse, and cast much 
blame and scorn on the bride, whom all had deemed a 
wife by her stained linen. Thus did she bring scandal 
on herself, albeit she was not properly speaking an 
altogether cause thereof, but rather her husband, who 
by feebleness, slackness and lack of vigour did spoil his 
own wedding. 





Again, there are some husbands that do know at their 
first night as to the maidenhood of their wives, whether 
they have won it or no, by the signs they find. So one that 
I know, who did marry a wife in second wedlock ; but the 
wife was for making him believe her first husband had never 
touched her, by reason of his impotence, and that she was 
virgin and a maid, as much as before being married at all. 
Yet did he find her of such ample capacity that he ex- 
claimed, "What ho ! are you the maid of Marolles, so tight 
and small as they told me you were?" So he had just to 
take it as it was, and make the best of it. For if her first 
husband had never touched her, as was quite true, yet 
many another man had. 


|UT what are we to say of some mothers who, 
seeing the impotence of their sons-in-law, or 
that they have the string knotted or some 
other defect, are procuresses to their own 
daughters. Thus to win their jointures, they get them 
to yield to others, and often to become with child by 
them, to the end they may have offspring to inherit after 
the death of the father. 

I know one such who was ready enough to give this 
counsel to her daughter, and indeed spared no effort to 
bring it about, but the misfortune for her was that never 
could she have a child at all. Also I know a husband who, 
not being able to do aught to his wife, did yield his place to 
a big lackey he had, a handsome lad, to lie with his wife 
and deflower her as she slept, and in this way save his 




honour. But she did discover the trick and the lackey had 
no success. For which cause they had a long suit at law, 
and finally were separated. 

King Henry of Castile 1 did the like, who as Fulgo- 
sius 2 relates, seeing he could make no children with his 
wife, did call in the help of a handsome young gentleman 
of his Court to make them for him. The which he did; 
and for his pains the King gave him great estates and 
advanced him in all honours, distinctions and dignities. 
Little doubt the wife was grateful to him therefor, 
and did find the arrangement much to her liking. This 
is what I call an accommodating cuckold ! 

As to these "knotted strings" spoken of above, there 
was lately a law process thereanent in the Court of the 
Parliament of Paris, between the Sieur de Bray, High 
Treasurer, and his wife, to whom he could do naught, suf- 
fering as he did from this or other like defect, for which 
the wife, once well married, did call him to account. It 
was ordered by the Court that they should be visited, 
the two of them, by great doctors expert in these matters. 
The husband did choose his, and the wife hers. And hereon 
was writ a right merry sonnet at the Court, the which 
a great lady read over to me herself, and gave me, whenas 
I was dining with her. 'Twas said a lady had writ it, 
though others said a man. Here it is : 


Entre les medecins renommes a Paris 
En scavoir, en espreuve, en science, en doctrine, 
Pour juger 1'imparfait de la coupe androgine, 
Par de Bray et sa femme ont este sept choisis, 



De Bray a eu pour lui les trois de moindre prix, 
Le Court, 1'Endormy, Pietre: et sa femme plus fine, 
Les quatre plus experts en 1'art de medecine, 
Le Grand, le Gros, Duret et Vigoureux a pris. 

On peut par la juger qui des deux gaignera, 
Et si le Grand du Court victorieux sera, 
Vigoureux d'Endormy, le Gros, Duret, de Pietre. 

Et de Bray n'ayant point ces deux de son coste, 
Estant tant imparfait que mari le peut estre, 
A faute de bon droict en sera deboute. 

(Among all the great doctors of Paris, famed for 
knowledge, skill, science and learning, seven were chosen 
out by de Bray and his wife, to judge of the defect in the 
cup of man and wife. De Bray has on his side the three 
of lesser price, Le Court, 1'Endormy, Pietre (Drs. Short, 
Sleepy, Puny) ; his wife has been cleverer and taken Le 
Grand, Le Gros, Duret and Vigoureux (Drs. Tall, Stout, 
Hardy and Vigorous). From this it may be guessed 
which of the pair will gain the day, and if Le Grand will 
give a good account of Le Court, Vigoureaux, of En- 
dormy, Le Gros and Duret of Pietre. So de Bray not 
having these two on his side, and being as ill-dowered as a 
husband can well be, for lack of a good case will surely 
be nonsuited.) 

I have heard speak of another husband, who did hold 
his new-made wife in his arms the first night; and she 
was so ravished with delight and pleasure that quite for- 
getting herself she could not refrain from a slight turning 
and twisting and mobile action of the body, such as new 
wed wives are scarce wont to make. At this he said naught 




else, but only, "Ha, ha ! I know now," and went on his way 
to the end. These be our cuckolds in embryo, of the which 
I could tell thousands of tales, but I should never have 
done. And the worst thing I see in them is when they 
wed cow and calf at once, as the saying is, and take them 
when already great with child. Like one I know, who 
had married a very fair and honourable damsel, by the 
favour and wish of their Prince and feudal Lord, who was 
much attached to the said gentleman and had made the 
marriage. But at the end of a week it became known she 
was with child, and she did actually publish it abroad, the 
better to play her part. The Prince, who had always sus- 
pected some love-making between her and another, said 
to her, "My lady! I have carefully writ down on my 
tablets the day and hour of your marriage; when folk 
shall set these against the time of your bringing to bed, 
you will have bitter shame!" But she at this word only 
blushed a little, and did naught else thereanent, but only 
kept ever the mien and bearing of a donna da ben (vir- 
tuous lady). 

Then again there are some daughters which do so fear 
their father and mother they had rather lose the life out of 
their bodies than their maidenhood, dreading their parents 
an hundred times more than their husbands. 

I have heard speak of a very fair and honourable dam- 
sel, who being sore tempted by her lover to take her pleas- 
ure of his love, did answer "under this cloak of marriage 
which doth cover all, we will take our joy with a right good 

Another, being eagerly sought after by a great noble- 
man, she said to him, "Petition our Prince and put some 
pressure on him, that he wed me soon to him that is now 




my suitor, and let me quickly make good my marriage 
that he hath promised me. The day after my wedding, if 
we meet not one another, why ! the bargain is off !" 

I know a lady who was wooed to love but four days 
before her bridal by a gentleman, and kinsman of her 
husband; yet six days after he did enjoy his will, at 
any rate he did make boast to the effect. Nor was it 
hard to believe, for they did show such familiarity the 
one to the other, you would have said they had been 
brought up together all their lives. Moreover he did 
even tell sundry signs and marks she had on her body, 
and further that they did continue their merry sport long 
while after. The gentleman always declared the famil- 
iarity that did afford them opportunity to come so far 
was, that in order to carry out a masquerade they did 
change clothes with one another. He took the dress of 
his mistress and she that of her admirer, whereat the hus- 
band did nothing but laugh, though some there were did 
find occasion to blame them and think ill of the thing. 
There was made a song about it at Court, of a husband 
who was married o' Tuesday and cuckolded o' Thursday, a 
fair rate of progress in sooth! 

What shall we say of another damsel who was long 
while wooed by a gentleman of a good house and rich, but 
for all that niggardly and not worthy of her? So being 
hard pressed at the instance of her family to marry him, 
she made answer she had liever die than marry him, and 
that he should be spoken thereof to her or to her kins- 
folk. For, she declared, if they did force her to marry 
him, she would only make him cuckold. But for all that 
it behooved to go by that road, for so was she constrained 
by the urgency of all the great folk, men and women, who 



had influence and authority over her, as well as by her 
kinsfolks' orders. 

On the eve of her bridal, her husband seeing her all sad 
and pensive, asked her what ailed her ; and she did answer 
him angrily, "You would never believe me, and be per- 
suaded to leave off your pursuit of me. You know what 
I have always said, that if ever I were so unfortunate as 
to become your wife, I would make you cuckold. And I 
swear I will do so, and keep my word to you." She was 
in no wise dainty about saying the same before sundry 
of her lady companions and male admirers. Afterward 
rest assured she was as good as her word, and did 
show him she was a good and true woman, for that she 
kept her promise faithfully ! 

I leave you to judge whether she is to be blamed, for a 
man once warned should be twice careful, and she did 
plainly tell him the ill plight he would fall into. So why 
would he not take heed? But indeed he thought little 
enough of what she said. 

These maids which thus let themselves go astray 
straightway after being married, but do as the Italian 
proverb saith: Che la vacca, che e stata molto tempo 
ligata, corre piu che quella che ha havuto sempre piana 
libertd, "The cow that hath been long tied up, runs more 
wild than one that hath ever had her full liberty." Thus 
did the first wife of Baldwyn, King of Jerusalem, whom 
I have spoken of before, who having been forced to take 
the veil by her husband, brake from the cloister and 
escaped out, and making now for Constantinople, behaved 
herself in such wanton wise as that she did bestow her 
favours on all wayfarers by that road, whether going or 
coming, as well men-at-arms as pilgrims to Jerusalem, 




without heed to her Royal rank. But the reason was the 
long fast she had had therefrom during her imprisonment. 

I might easily name many other such. Well \ they are 
a good sort of cuckolds these, as are likewise those others 
which suffer their wives' unfaithfulness, when these be fair 
and much sought after for their beauty, and abandon them 
to it, in order to win favour for themselves, and draw 
profit and wealth therefrom. Many such are to be seen 
at the Courts of great Kings and Princes, the which do 
get good advantage thereby; for from poor men as they 
were aforetime, whether from pledging of their goods, 
or by some process of law, or mayhap through the cost 
of warlike expeditions, they be brought low, are they 
straight raised up again and enriched greatly by way of 
their good wives' trou. Yet do they find no diminution 
whatever in that same place, but rather augmentation \ 

Herein was the case different with a very fair lady I 
have heard tell of, for that she had lost the half of her 
affair by misadventure, her husband having, so they said, 
given her the pox which had eaten it away for her. 

Truly the favours and benefits of the great may well 
shake the most chaste hearts, and are cause of many and 
many a cuckoldry. And hereanent I have heard the tale 
related of a foreign Prince 8 who was appointed General 
by his Sovereign Prince and master of a great expedi- 
tion of War he had ordered to be made, and left his 
wife behind, one of the fairest ladies in all Christendom, 
at his Master's Court. But this last did set to and make 
suit to her to such effect that he very soon shook and laid 
low her resolve, and had his will so far that he did get 
her with child. 

The husband, returning at the end of twelve or thirteen 





months, doth find her in this state, and though sore 
grieved and very wroth against her, durst not ask her 
the how and why of it. 'Twas for her, and very adroit 
she was, to frame her excuses, and a certain brother-in- 
law of hers to help her out. And this-like was the plea 
she made out : " 'Tis the issue of your campaign that 
is cause of this, which hath been taken so ill by your 
Master, for indeed he did gain little profit thereby. So 
sorely have you been blamed in your absence for that you 
did not carry out his behests better, that had not your 
Lord set his love on me, you had verily been undone; 
and so to save you from undoing, I have e'en suffered 
myself to be undone. Your honour is as much concerned 
as mine own, and more, and for your advancement I 
have not spared the most precious thing I possess. 
Reflect then if I have done so ill as you might say at first ; 
for without me, your life, your honour and favour would 
all have been risked. You are in better case than ever, 
while the matter is not so public that the stain to your 
repute be too manifest. Wherefore, I beseech you to 
excuse and forgive me for that I have done." 

The brother-in-law, who was of the best at a specious 
tale, and who mayhap had somewhat to do with the lady's 
condition, added thereto yet other good and weighty 
words, so that at the last all ended well. Thus was peace 
made, and the twain were of better accord than ever liv- 
ing together in all freedom and good fellowship. Yet, 
or so have I heard tell, did the Prince theirjnaster, the 
which had done the wrong and had made all the difficulty, 
never esteem him so highly as he had done aforetime, for 
having taken the thing so mildly. Never after did he 
deem him a man of such high-souled honour as he had 



thought him previously, though in his heart of hearts 
he was right glad the poor lady had not to suffer for the 
pleasure she had given him. I have known sundry, both 
men and women, ready to excuse the lady in question, 
and to hold she did well so to suffer her own undoing 
in order to save her husband and set him back again in 
his Sovereign's favour. 

Ah ! how many examples are to be found to match this ; 
as that of a great lady who did save her husband's life, 
the which had been condemned to death in full Court, 
having been convicted of great peculations and malversa- 
tions in his government and office. For which thing the 
husband did after love her well all his life. 

I have heard speak again of a great Lord, who had been 
condemned to have his head cut off ; but lo ! he being 
already set on the scaffold, his pardon did arrive, the 
which his daughter, one of the fairest of women, 4 had 
obtained. Whereon, being come down off the scaffold, 
he did say this word, and naught else at all: "God save 
my girl's good motte, which hath saved my life!" 

Saint Augustine doth express a doubt whether a certain 
citizen of Antioch, a Christian, did sin, when to acquit him 
of a heavy sum of money for the which he was in strict 
confinement, he gave his wife leave to lie with a gentleman 
of greath wealth, who undertook to free him from his 

If such is the opinion of Saint Augustine, what would 
he not allow to many women, widows and maids, who to 
redeem their fathers, kinsmen, yea! sometimes their hus- 
bands themselves, do surrender their gentle body under 
stress of many and sundry trials that fall to their lot, as 
imprisonment, enslavement, peril to life itself, assaults 





and takings of cities, and in a word an host of other the 
like incommodities. Nay ! sometimes to gain over captains 
and soldiers, to cause them to fight stubbornly and hold 
their ground, or to sustain a siege or retake a place, I 
could recount an hundred instances, they will go the 
length of fearlessly prostituting their chastity to gain 
their ends. What evil report or scandal can come to them 
for this? None surely, but rather much glory and 

Who then will deny it to be a good thing on occasion to 
be cuckold, forasmuch as a man may draw therefrom such 
advantages in the way of life saved and favour regained, of 
honour, dignities and riches ? How many do I know in like 
case ; and have heard speak of many more which have been 
advanced by the beauty and bodies of their wives ! 

I wish not to offend any, but I will take upon me to say 
this much, that I have it from not a few, both men and 
women, how ladies have served their mates right well, and 
how the merits of some of them have not availed them near 
so much as their wives'. 

I know a great lady of much adroit skill who got the 
Order of St. Michael bestowed on her husband, he being at 
that time the only one that had it along with the two 
greatest Princes of Christendom. She would oft tell him, 
and say out the same before everybody, for indeed she 
was of merry demeanour and excellent company : "Ha, ha ! 
my friend, you might have sweated yourself many a long 
day before you got this pretty bauble to hang at your 

I have heard speak of a great man, in the days of King 
Francis, who having received the Order, and being fain to 
make boast thereof one day before M. de la Chastaigne- 



raie, my uncle, did say to him : "Ah ! how glad would you 
be to have this Order hanging at your neck like me !" My 
uncle, who was ready of tongue and high of hand and hot- 
tempered, if ever man was, straight replied : "I had rather 
be dead than have it by the way you had it by!" The 
other answered never a word, for he knew the man he had 
to deal with. 

I have heard the story told of a great Lord, whose wife 
had begged for him the patent appointing him to one of 
the great offices of his district and did bring it to him in his 
house, his Prince having bestowed it upon him only by 
favour of his wife. But he would in no wise accept it, 
forasmuch as he was aware his wife had tarried three 
months with the Prince in high favour, and not without 
suspicions of something worse. Herein he did manifest the 
same nobility of spirit he had shown all his life ; yet at the 
last he did take it, after having done a thing I had rather 
not name. 

And this is how fair ladies have made as many knights 
as battles, and more, the which I would name, knowing 
their names as well as another, were it not I desired to 
avoid speaking ill of any, or making scandal. And if they 
have given them these honours, they have brought them 
much riches as well. 

I know one who was but a poor devil when he first 
brought his wife to Court, the which was a very beautiful 
woman. And lo! in less than two years they were in 
good ease and become very rich folk. 




JELL! we must needs think highly of these 
ladies which do thus raise their husbands in 
wealth and position, and make them cuckolds 
not without compensation. Even as men say 
of Marguerite de Namur, who was so foolish as to 
bind herself and give all ever she could to Louis, Duke 
of Orleans, one who was so great and puissant a Lord 
already, and brother to the King. To this end she did 
get from her husband whatever she could, till at the last 
he became a poor man, and was forced to sell his Earl- 
dom of Blois to the said M. d'Orleans. And this latter, 
to think of it ! did pay him therefore in the very same 
coin and goods the man's infatuate wife had given him. 
Foolish indeed she was, for that she was giving to one 
greater than herself. And to think that he did laugh at 
the pair of them, for in good sooth he was the very man 
so to do, so fickle was he and inconstant in love. 

I know a great lady who, having fallen deep in love with 
a gentleman of the Court, did accordingly suffer him to 
have his joy of her. And not being able to give him 
money, seeing her husband ever kept his hoard hid like 
a priest, did give him the greater part of her precious 
stones, the which did mount up to a value of thirty thou- 
sand crowns. Whence men said at Court he might well 
begin to build now, since he had plenty of stones laid up 
and stored away. Soon afterward, being come into a 
great inheritance and having put her hand on some 
twenty thousand crowns, she scarce kept any thereof, but 
her lover did enjoy the greater part. And 'twas said 
that if this inheritance had not fallen in to her, not 




knowing what else she could give him, she would have given 
him the very clothes off her body down to her shift itself. 
Wherein are suchlike scamps and scorners greatly to 
blame so to set about it and distil and draw off all the 
substance of these poor creatures, so hot-headed and 
infatuate with passion and caprice. For their purse, 
being so oft visited, cannot stay always swelled out and 
at its full capacity, like the purse in front, which is 
ever in the same condition, and ever ready for whosoever 
wills to fish therein, without the captives that have en- 
tered and come forth again of the same finding a word 
to say against it. This worthy gentleman, whom I spoke 
of as so well stocked with stones, came some time after 
to die. Then did all his effects, as is the way at Paris, 
come to be cried and sold at public auction, and so were 
in this wise reckoned up and known by many persons 
as having belonged to the lady, not without bitter and 
deep shame to the same. 

There was a great Prince who loving a very honourable 
lady, did purchase a dozen diamond studs, brilliants of 
the first water and admirably set, with their Egyptian 
letters and hieroglyphics, containing a secret and cabalis- 
tic meaning, the which he did make a present of to his 
mistress. But she after looking at the same attentively, 
said to him that at present she found no need of hiero- 
glyphic lettering, forasmuch as the writings were already 
done and accomplished between them twain, even as they 
had been between the gentleman and the fair lady spoken 
of just above. 

I knew once a lady who was forever saying to her 
husband, how she had rather make him criminal than 
cuckold. But truly the two words are something equivo- 




cal, and mayhap more or less of both of these fine qualities 
mated together in her and in her husband. 

Yet I have known well plenty of fair ladies that have 
not done so at all. Rather have they kept the purse of 
their crown-pieces far tighter drawn than that of their 
fair body. For, albeit very great ladies, never would 
they be giving but a ring or two, a few favours and such 
other little compliments, muffs or scarfs, to wear for 
love of them to enhance their repute. 

Yet have I known one very great lady 1 which was 
exceeding free and generous herein, for the least of her 
scarfs and the favours she was used to give her lovers 
was worth five hundred crowns, a thousand crowns, or 
even three, whereon was such abundance of embroidery, 
and pearls, and cyphers, and cabalistic letters and pretty 
conceits, nothing in all this world ever was richer and 
rarer to look on. And she was right; for so her gifts, 
once made, were not hid away in chests or in purses, like 
those of many other dames, but were displayed before all 
men. For she deemed that her friends did manifest their 
worth looking at them and showing them as tokens of her 
regard, whereas such presents when made in coin did 
smack rather of common women that give money to their 
bullies than of high-born and honourable ladies. Some- 
times again she would give beautiful rings of rich jewel- 
work, forasmuch as favours and scarfs are not ordinarily 
worn, but only on some great and high emprise, whereas 
a ring on the finger keeps better company and more con- 
stant with the wearer. 

Though, verily, a gentle and noble-hearted knight 
should be of this generous complexion that he had rather 
serve his lady for the beauties which do make her shine 



resplendent than for all the shining gold and silver she 
may have. 

For myself, I can boast of having served in my day 
honourable ladies, and those of no low estate. But truly 
if I had been willing to take all they gave me and extract 
from their generosity all I might have had, why, I should 
be a richer man to-day, whether in goods or money or 
plenishing, than I am by a good thirty thousand crowns ; 
yet have I alway been content to make evident my love 
rather by my generosity than by my avariciousness. 

Without doubt there is good reason for it, that inas- 
much as the man doth put somewhat of his own into the 
purse the woman hath, the woman should likewise put 
something of hers in the man's. Yet herein must due pro- 
portion be kept; for just as the man cannot cast in and 
give as much of his into the woman's purse as she would 
fain have, so is the man bound in fairness not to draw 
from that of the woman all he would. The law of give 
and take must needs be observed and proper measure 

I have moreover before now seen many gentlemen lose 
the love of their mistresses by reason of the importunity 
of their demands and their inordinate rapacity. For 
these, seeing them such beggars and so eager to have their 
pay, have quietly broke off the connexion and left them in 
the lurch, and that notwithstanding the excellent service 

Wherefore it is that every noble-minded lover were bet- 
ter to be guilty of greed for his lady's body than for her 
money; because supposing the lady to be over generous 
of her goods, the husband finding his property lessening 




apace, is more angered thereat ten times over than at a 
thousand largesses she may have made of her person. 

Further, some cuckolds there be that are made such in 
the way of revenge. I mean that often men who have a 
grudge against some great Lord or gentleman or other 
person, from the which they have received injuries and 
affronts, do avenge their wrongs on them by making love 
to their wives, whom they do debauch and make fine 
cuckolds of their enemies. 

I knew once a great Prince who had suffered from sun- 
dry attempts at rebellion on the part of one of his 
subjects, a great Lord, yet was all unable to revenge 
himself, seeing the offender did all he could to escape him, 
so that the Prince could never lay hands on him. However, 
his wife having one day come to Court to solicit her 
husband's pardon and the better ordering of his case, the 
Prince did appoint with her to meet him to confer thereof 
in a garden and a chamber adjoining it. But it was really 
to talk of love to her, wherein he won his triumph on the 
spot, without much ado, for she was of very accommo- 
dating character. Nor did he content himself with having 
her in his proper person, but did likewise prostitute her 
to others, down to the very footmen of the chambers. And 
in this wise would the Prince declare he did feel himself 
well revenged on his unfaithful subject, having so de- 
bauched his wife and crowned his head with a good coronal 
of horns. Albeit but a subject, he had been fain to play 
petty king and sovereign ; but instead of winning a regal 
crown of fleurs-de-lis, he had gotten himself a fine one of 
horns ! 2 

This same Prince did a like thing in another case at the 
instigation of his mother, for he did debauch a Princess 





that was a maid, well knowing she was to wed a certain 
Prince who had done him displeasure and sore troubled 
his brother's government. Thus he did deflower her and 
had his will of her finely; yet after two months was she 
delivered to the poor Prince as a virgin and to be his 
wife. The revenge herefor was of the mildest, pending 
other action that did ensue later, of a harsh and violent 
enough sort. 8 

I knew once a very honourable gentleman who, being 
lover of a fair lady and one of good belongings, did ask 
her for the recompense of his long love and courtship; 
but she answered frankly, she would not give him so much 
as a single doit's worth, seeing she was quite assured he 
loved her not for this, and bare her not such fond affec- 
tion for her beauty's sake, as he alleged. His wish was 
rather, by having his will of her, to avenge himself on her 
husband, who had done him some displeasure; wherefore 
he was fain to win this consolation to his pride and to 
feel for the future he had had the upper hand. But the 
gentleman, assuring her of the contrary, continued to 
court her humbly for more than two years longer, and this 
so faithfully and with such passion, that at the last she 
did show such ample and full gratitude that she did grant 
him all she had before refused, declaring that had she not, 
at the first beginning of their courtship, supposed some 
idea of vengeance intended to be in his mind, she would 
immediately have made him as happy a man as she now 
did at the end, for that her natural bent was to love and 
prefer him. Note how the lady was able wisely to com- 
mand her passion so that love did never carry her away 
to do what all the while she did most desire, for that she 




wished to be loved for her own sake and not merely as a 
means to a man's vengeance on another. 

The late M. du Gua, one of the truly gallant and per- 
fect gentlemen of the world in every way, did invite me 
to the Court one day to dine with him. He had brought 
together a dozen of the most learned men of the Court, 
amongst others the Lord Bishop of Dol, 4 of the house of 
Espinay in Brittany, MM. de Ronsard, de Baif, Des 
Fortes, d'Aubigny (the last two are still living, and could 
contradict me, if I lie), and others whose names I forget. 
Amongst them all was no man of the sword but only M. du 
Gua and myself. The discourse during dinner turned on 
love, and the commodities and incommodities, pleasures 
and displeasures, good and ill, it brought in its train. 
After each guest had declared his opinion on the one side 
or the other, himself did conclude that the sovereign good 
of its gratification lay in this vengeance it made possible, 
and prayed each of all these great personages to make a 
quatrain thereon impromptu. This they all did, and I 
would I had them to insert here ; but his Lordship of Dol, 
whose words were true gold, whether spoke or writ, did 
bear off the prize. 

And doubtless M. du Gua had good reason to maintain 
this view, as against two great Lords of my acquaintance, 
whom he did cause to wear the horns for the hatred he 
bare them. Their wives were very fair women, so in this 
case he did win double pleasures, satisfaction of his ven- 
geance and gratification of his passions. Many other 
folk have so revenged themselves and taken delight herein, 
and accordingly have shared in the same opinion. 

Moreover I have known many fair and honourable 
ladies, who did say and affirm that, when their husbands 




had maltreated or bullied them, rated or censured them, 
beat them or otherwise ill-used and outraged them, their 
greatest joy and delight was to give them a pair of horns, 
and in the act, to think of them, and scoff and mock and 
make fun of them with their paramours, going so far as 
to declare they did hereby have a greater access of appe- 
tite and sure delight of pleasure than could well be de- 

I have heard speak of a fair and honourable lady who, 
being asked once if ever she had made her husband cuck- 
old, did make answer, "Nay ! why should I have made him 
so, seeing he hath never beat nor even threatened me?" 
As though implying that, if he had done either one or the 
other, her champion that she had in front would very 
soon have revenged her. 

And speaking of wit and mockery, I once knew a very 
honourable and fair lady who, being in these gentle trans- 
ports of pleasure, did chance by dint of her wild caresses 
to break an earring she had in the shape of a cornucopia, 
which was but of black glass, such as were worn in those 
days. Whereupon she cried instantly to her lover, "Look 
you, how provident Dame Nature is ; I have broken one 
horn, but here I am making a dozen others for my poor 
cuckold of a husband, to bedeck him withal some fine feast- 
day, if he so will." 

Another, having left her husband a-bed and asleep, went 
to see her lover before lying down herself. Then asked 
he her where her husband was, and she did reply, "He is 
keeping his bed, guarding his cuckoo's nest for fear 
another come to lay therein. But 'tis not with his bed, 
nor his sheets, nor his nest you have to do, but with me, 





who am come to see you. I have left him there as sentinel, 
though truly he is but a sleepy one." 

Talking of sentinels, I have heard a tale told of a cer- 
tain gentleman of consideration, whom I well knew, who 
one day coming to words with a very honourable lady, 
whom also I knew, he did ask her, by way of insult, if she 
had ever gone on pilgrimage to Saint Mathurin. 5 "Oh, 
yes !" she replied, "but I could never get into the Church, 
for so full and so well occupied was it with cuckolds, they 
would never suffer me to enter. And you, who were one 
of the foremost, were mounted on the steeple, to act sen- 
tinel and warn the others." 

I could tell a thousand other such tales, but I should 
never have done. Yet do I hope to find room for some of 
them in some corner or other of my book. 


|OME cuckolds there be which are good-natured 
and which of their own impulse do invite 
themselves to this feast of cuckoldry. Thus 
I have known some who would say to their 
wives, "Such and such an one is in love with you ; I know 
him well, and he often cometh to visit us, but 'tis for love 
of you, my pretty. Give him good welcome; he can do 
us much pleasure, his acquaintance may advantage us 

Others again will say to their wives' admirers, "My wife 
is in love with you, and right fond of you. Come and see 
her, you will give her pleasure; you can chat and hold 
discourse together, and pass the time agreeably." So do 
they invite folk to feast at their expense. As did the 





Emperor Hadrian, 1 who being one time in Britain (as 
we read in his Life), carrying on War there, did receive 
sundry warnings, how that his wife, the Empress Sabina, 
was making unbridled love with a number of gallant Ro- 
man noblemen. As fate would have it, she had writ and 
despatched a letter from Rome to a certain young Ro- 
man gentleman who was with the Emperor in Britain, 
complaining that he had forgot her, and took no more 
account of her, and that it must needs be he had some 
intrigue in that region and that some affected little 
wanton had caught him in the lakes of her beauty. This 
letter fell by chance into the Emperor's hands ; and when 
the nobleman in question did some days after ask leave 
of absence under colour of wishing to go to Rome imme- 
diately for family affairs of his own, Hadrian said to him 
in mocking wise, "Well, well! young sir, go there, and 
boldly, for the Empress, my wife, is expecting you in all 
affection." But the Roman hearing this, and finding the 
Emperor had discovered his secret and might likely play 
him some ill turn, started the very next night, without 
saying by your leave or with your leave, and took refuge 
in Ireland. 

Still he had no need to be greatly afraid for all this. 
Indeed the Emperor himself would often say, being re- 
galed continually with tales of the extravagant love af- 
fairs of his wife, "Why, certainly, were I not Emperor, I 
should have long ago rid me of my wife ; but I desire not 
to show an evil example." As much as to say, it matters 
not to the great to be in this case, so long as they let it 
not be known publicly. And what a fate for great men, 
one which truly some of them have consented to, though 





not for the same reason! So we see this good Emperor 
suffering himself complacently to be made cuckold. 

Another good Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, 2 who had as 
wife Faustina, a downright harlot, replied on being ad- 
vised to put her away, "If we give her up, we are bound 
also to give up her dowry, which is the Empire." And 
who would not be cuckold like him for such a prize, or 
even a less one? 

His son, Antonius Verus, surnamed Commodus, though 
he grew up very cruel, yet held the like language to such 
as advised him to have the said Faustina, his mother, put 
to death. So madly in love was she and so hot after a 
gladiator that she could never be cured of the fierce mal- 
ady, till at last they bethought them to kill the rascally 
gladiator and make her drink his blood. 

Many and many a husband hath done and doth the 
same as the good Marcus Aurelius, for they do fear to 
kill their wives, whores though they be, for dread of losing 
the great fortunes they have of them, and had rather be 
rich cuckolds on these easy terms than cruel villains. 

Heavens! how many of the sort have I known, who 
were forever inviting their kinsmen and friends and com- 
rades to come and visit their wives, going so far as to 
make banquets for them, the better to attract them. 
Then, when they were there, they would leave them alone 
with the lady in bedchamber or closet, and so away, with 
the words, "I leave my wife in your care." 

One I knew, a nobleman of the great world, of such 
behaviour you would have said his whole happiness did 
rest in this only, to be cuckolded. He seemed to make 
it his study to give opportunities therefor, and especially 
never forgot to say this first word, "My wife is in love 



with you ; do you love her as well as she loves you, I won- 
der?" Many a time when he saw his wife with her ad- 
mirer, he would carry off the company from the room to 
take a walk, leaving the twain of them together, so giv- 
ing them good leisure to discuss their loves. And if by 
any chance he had to return of a sudden into the room, 
from the very bottom step of the stairs he would begin 
shouting aloud, calling after someone, spitting or cough- 
ing, to the end he might not catch the lovers in the act. 
For commonly, even though one know of them and suspect 
their coming, these peeps and surprises are scarce pleas- 
ant whether to the one party or the other. 

This same Lord was having a fine mansion built one 
time, and the master mason having asked whether he 
would not have the cornices ftorn-amented, he made an- 
swer, "I don't know what ^ornamentation means. Go and 
ask my wife who understands the thing, and knows geom- 
etry; and whatever she tells you to do, do it." 

Still worse was it with one I know of, who one day 
selling one of his estates to a purchaser for fifty thousand 
crowns, did take forty-five thousand of the sum in gold 
and silver, and in lieu of the remaining five accepted a 
unicorn's horn. Huge laughter amid them that knew 
him ; "Ha, ha !" they said, "as if he had not enough horns 
at home already, that he must fit in this one to boot." 

I knew a very great Lord, a brave and gallant man, 
who did greet a certain honourable gentleman and profess 
himself his very good servant, yet adding with a smile 
these words, "My dear Sir, I know not what you have done 
to my wife, but she is so much in love with you that day 
and night she doth nothing but speak to me of you, and 
is forever singing your praises. For all answer I tell 




her I have known you longer than she hath, and am well 
aware of your worth and deserts, which are great." Who 
more astonished than this same gentleman? for he had 
but just taken in this lady on his arm to Vespers, which 
the Queen was attending, and that was all. However, he 
at once regained his countenance and replied, "Sir! I am 
your wife's most humble servant, and deeply grateful for 
the good opinion she hath of me, and do greatly respect 
her. Yet do I not make love to her," he went on in a 
merry tone. "All I do is to pay her my court, herein 
following the good advice yourself gave me quite lately, 
seeing she hath much influence with my mistress, whom I 
may be enabled to wed by her help, and therefore do hope 
she will give me her assistance." 

The Prince had no suspicion and did naught but laugh 
and admonish the gentleman to court his wife more assid- 
uously than ever. This he did, being right glad under 
this pretext to be lover to so fair a lady and so great a 
Princess, who soon made him forget his other mistress 
he had been fain to wed, and scarce to think of her again, 
except to find her a convenient mask to dissemble and cover 
up the whole thing withal. Even so could the Prince not 
help but feel some pangs of jealousy when one day he did 
see the said gentleman in the Queen's chamber wearing on 
his arm a ribband of Spanish scarlet, which had just been 
brought to Court as a fine novelty, and which he did touch 
and handle as he talked with him; then going to find his 
wife who was by the Queen's bedside, lo ! he saw she had 
one that was its very match, which he did likewise touch 
and handle and proved it to be like it in all respects and 
part of the same piece as the other. Yet did he breathe 
never a word, nor take any steps in the matter. And 




indeed in such intrigues it is very needful to cover up 
their fires with such cinders of discretion and good coun- 
sel as that they may never be discovered; for very oft 
such discovery of the scandal will anger husbands far 
more against their wives than when the same is done, but 
all in secret, herein illustrating the proverb, Si non 
caste, tamen caute, "If not with virtue, at any rate with 

What terrible scandals and great incommodities have 
I seen in my time arise from the indiscretions of ladies 
and their lovers ! Yet would the husbands have cared 
naught at all about the thing, if only they had done their 
doings sotto coperte (under cover, under the rose), as 
the saying is, and the matter had never seen the light. 

I knew one dame who was all for manifesting quite 
openly her loves and preferences, which she did indulge as 
if she had had no husband at all, and had been her own 
mistress entirely, refusing to listen to the counsels of her 
friends and lovers, who did remonstrate with her and 
point out the inconveniences she was exposing herself to. 
And of these she did later reap a sore harvest ! 

This lady did otherwise than many worthy dames have 
done at all times, who have gaily enjoyed love and lived a 
merry life, yet have never given much evidence thereof to 
the world, except mayhap some small suspicions, that 
could scarce have revealed the truth even to the most 
clear-sighted. For they would address their lovers in 
public so dexterously, and deal with them so adroitly, that 
neither husbands nor spies, all their life long, could ever 
get aught to bite at. And when their favourites departed 
on some journey, or came to die, they would dissemble 




and conceal their grief so cunningly that none ever dis- 
covered aught. 

I knew a fair and honourable lady, who the day a cer- 
tain great Lord, her lover, died, did appear in the Queen's 
chamber with a countenance as gay and smiling as the 
day before. Some did think highly of her for such dis- 
cretion, deeming she did so for fear of doing the King dis- 
pleasure and angering him, for that he liked not the man 
deceased. Others blamed her, attributing this bearing 
rather to the lack of true love, wherein 'twas said she was 
but poorly furnished, like all women who lead the life 
she did. 

I knew on the other hand two fair and honourable ladies, 
who having lost their lovers in a misadventure of war, did 
make great sorrow and lamentation, and did make mani- 
fest their mourning by their dusky weeds, and eke holy- 
water vessels and sprinklers of gold engraven with fig- 
ures, and death's-heads, and all kinds of trophies of dis- 
solution, in their trinkets, jewels and bracelets which they 
wear. All this did bring much scandal upon them and 
was greatly to their hurt ; though their husbands did take 
no special heed thereof. 

This is how these ladies do themselves hurt by the 
making public their amours ; these we may rightly praise 
and esteem for their constancy, though not for their dis- 
cretion, for on this last count what they do is much to 
their disadvantage. 

And if ladies so doing are blameworthy, there be many 
likewise among their lovers which do deserve reprimand 
quite as much as they. For they will ever be putting on 
looks as they were half dead, like she-goats in kid, and 
a most languorous mien, making eyes and casting ap- 




pealing glances, indulging in passionate gestures and love- 
sick sighs in company, openly bedecking themselves with 
their ladies' colours,- in a word giving way to so many 
silly indiscretions that a blind man could scarce fail to 
note them. Some of them moreover do the like more in 
pretence than in reality, desiring to let all the Court 
understand they are in love in an high quarter, and are 
happy in their amours. Whereas, God wot, it may well 
be the ladies would not give them so much as one poor 
farthing in alms, to save their repute for deeds of charity ! 

I do know well a certain nobleman and great Lord, who 
desiring to satisfy the world he was the lover of a fair 
and honourable lady that I know of, had his little mule 
held in front of her door, with a couple of his lackeys and 
pages. As it fell out, M. d'Estrozze and myself did pass 
that way, and beheld this mystery of the mule and the 
man's pages and lackeys. He asked instantly where was 
their master, and they replied he was within, in the lady's 
house. Hereupon M. d'Estrozze burst out a-laughing, 
and turning to me, said he would wager his life he was 
not there at all. And in a moment after he posted his 
page as sentinel to watch if the pretended lover should 
come forth; then quickly we hied us to the Queen's cham- 
ber, where we found our man, not without some laughter 
betwixt him and me. 

Then towards evening we went to greet him, and pre- 
tending to quarrel with him, did ask him where he was at 
such and such an hour of the afternoon, and how that he 
could not deceive us, as we had seen his mule and his 
pages before the said lady's door. But the fellow, mak- 
ing as though he were vexed we had seen so much and were 
for this cause attacking him for carrying out an intrigue 




in this high quarter, did confess he was there in very 
truth. At the same time he besought us not to breathe 
a word; else should we bring him into sore trouble, and 
the poor lady would incur scandal and the displeasure of 
her husband. And this we did faithfully promise him, 
laughing all the while heartily and making mock at him, 
albeit he was a nobleman of no small rank and quality, 
and declaring we would not speak of the thing, and never 
a syllable pass our lips. 

Finally after some days during which he did continue 
his trick with the mule too often for our patience, we did 
discover our artfulness to him, and attacked him with 
right good will and in good company. This made him 
desist for very shame, and indeed the lady did know of it 
by this time through our information, and had the mule 
and the pages watched one day and incontinently driven 
away from her door like beggars in front of an inn. Nay ! 
we did even better, for we told the tale to the husband, 
and that in such merry wise he found it right diverting 
and laughed heartily at the thing, saying he had no fear 
this fellow would make him cuckold, and that if ever he 
should find the said mule and pages stationed at his door, 
he would have the gates opened and invite them inside, to 
the end they might be more at ease and sheltered from 
heat, cold or rain. Not but what others all the whole 
while were cuckolding him soundly enough. And this is 
how this noble Lord was fain, at the expense of an hon- 
ourable lady and her repute, to exalt himself, without any 
heed to the scandal he might cause thereby. 

I knew another nobleman who did bring sore scandal 
on a very fair and honourable lady by his behaviour. He 
had for some while been in love with her, and did urge her 




to grant him the little tit-bit reserved for her husband's 
mouth, but she did refuse him flatly. At last, after sev- 
eral refusals, he said to her, as if in despair, "Well, if you 
won't, why, you won't; but I give you my oath I will 
ruin your honour and repute." And to this end he be- 
thought him to make many comings and goings in secret, 
yet not so secret but that he made himself seen of set pur- 
pose by sundry eyes, and let himself be noted by day and 
by night frequenting the house where she dwelt. Then he 
would be ever vaunting and boasting under the rose of his 
pretended successes, and in company seeking out the lady 
with more familiarity than he had any call to do, and 
among his comrades swaggering as the happy lover, and 
this all in mere pretence. The end was that one night 
having slipped in very late into the said lady's bedcham- 
ber, all muffled in his cloak and hiding from the folk of 
the house, and after playing sundry of his stealthy tricks, 
he was suspected by the seneschal of the household, who 
had a watch set. And though they could not find him, 
yet did the husband beat his wife and give her several 
buffets ; but later, urged thereto by the seneschal, who said 
it was not punishment enough, did stab her and kill her; 
and readily won his pardon therefor from the King. A 
sad pity truly for the poor lady, who was very fair and 
beauteous. Afterward the nobleman, which had been 
cause of all the mischief, did not fare far or well, but was 
killed in a passage of war, by God's good will, for having 
so unjustly robbed an honourable lady of her good name 
and her life. 





|O tell the truth as to this example and a host of 
others I have seen, there are some ladies which 
do themselves great wrong, and which are the 
true cause of the scandal and dishonour they 
incur. For 'tis themselves that do provoke the first 
skirmishes and purposely draw the gallants to them, 
from the beginning lavishing on them the fondest 
caresses, favours and familiarities, raising their hopes by 
all sorts of gentle wiles and flattering words. Yet when it 
cometh to the point, they will refuse outright, in such 
wise that the honourable gentlemen which had promised 
themselves many a pleasant treat of their person, fall into 
anger and despair and quit them with harsh words. So 
they depart abusing them and giving them out for the 
biggest strumpets in all the world, and make out an hun- 
dredfold worse tale of their demerits than is really 

And this is why an honourable lady should never set 
herself to draw a gallant to her, and suffer him to be her 
servant, if she will not satisfy him at the last according to 
his deserts and loving service. It behooves her to realize 
this, unless she would be undone, even when she hath to 
do with an honourable and gallant man ; else from the first 
beginning, when he doth first accost her, and she sees it 
is with this end so much desired in view, that he pay his 
vows to her, but she feeleth no desire to gratify him 
herein, she should give him his dismissal at the very 
threshold. For indeed, to speak quite candidly, any 
woman that doth suffer a lover to court her, doth lay 
herself under such obligation that she cannot withdraw 




afterward from the fight. She is bound to come to it 
sooner or later, long though the coming may sometimes be. 

There be some dames, however, whose joy is to be served 
for nothing, but only for the light of their bright eyes. 
They say they love to be served and courted, that this is 
their great happiness, and not to come to the final act at 
all. Their pleasure, they declare, doth lie in wishing for 
it, not in actually performing of it. I have known many 
ladies which have told me this. Yet can they never stop 
there; for if once they do begin wishing for it, without 
shadow of doubt they will some day come to the doing of 
it as well. For this is the law of love, that when once a 
woman doth wish or hope, or but dream of wishing and 
desiring a man for herself, the thing is done. If only the 
man know it, and steadily follow up his fair assailant, he 
will surely have leg or wing, fur or feathers, as they say. 

In this wise then are poor husbands made cuckold by 
such thoughts on the part of ladies, who are ready to wish 
forsooth, but not to do. For truly, without suspecting it, 
they will of their own fault be burned in the candle, or at 
the fire they have themselves built. Like poor simple 
shepherdesses, which to warm themselves in the fields as 
they watch their sheep and lambs, do kindle a little fire, 
without thought of any harm or ill to follow. But they 
give no heed to the chance their little fire may set so great 
an one ablaze as will burn up a whole country-side of 
plains and woods. 

'Twere well if such ladies would take example, to teach 
them wisdom, of the Comtesse d'Escaldasor, a very fair 
lady dwelling at Pavia, to whom M. de Lescu, afterward 
known as the Marechal de Foix, was paying court. He 
was then a student at Pavia, and was called the Pro- 




tonotary de Foix, seeing he was destined for the Church, 
though afterward he did quit the long robe to adopt the 
profession of arms. And he might well love her, seeing 
at that day she bare the bell for beauty over all the 
ladies of Lombardy. So seeing herself hotly pressed by 
him, yet not wishing to rudely disoblige him or dismiss 
him roughly, for he was a near kinsman of the renowned 
Gaston de Foix, at whose fame all Italy trembled in those 
days, the Countess on a day of high festivity and state 
at Pavia, whereat all the fairest ladies of the city and 
neighbourhood were gathered and many noble gentlemen, 
did appear, the fairest of them all, superbly attired in a 
robe of sky blue, all trimmed and bespangled over all its 
length and breadth with torches and butterflies fluttering 
round them and burning themselves in their flame. The 
whole was in broidery of gold and silver, for truly the 
embroiderers of Milan have ever surpassed those of all the 
rest of the world, and won the lady the general repute of 
being the best adorned of all the company there present. 
Then the Protonotary, leading her out to the dance, 
was moved to ask her what might be the meaning of the 
designs on her robe, strongly suspecting there lay be- 
neath some hidden signification unfavourable to him. She 
made answer in these words, "Sir, I have had my robe 
fashioned thus, just as soldiers and horsemen do with 
their horses when they are wild and vicious, and kick and 
fling out their heels. For they do fix on their crupper a 
big silver bell, to the end that this signal may warn their 
comrades, when they are riding in a close press of com- 
pany, to take heed of the vicious kicker, lest he do them 
an injury. In like wise by my fluttering butterflies, burn- 
ing themselves in these torches, I do warn those honour- 



able gentlemen which do me the favour of loving me and 
admiring my beauty, not to come too nigh, nor to desire 
aught else, but only the sight of me. For they will gain 
nothing thereby, but only like the butterflies, to long, 
and burn, and get no satisfaction." 

The story is writ in the Emblems of Paulus Jovius. 1 
In this fashion did she warn her lover to take heed for 
himself in time. I know not whether or no he did come 
more nigh, or what he did. But later, being wounded 
to the death at the battle of Pavia, and taken prisoner, 
he begged to be carried to the house of this same Countess 
at Pavia, where he was very well received and tended by 
her. In three days' time he died there, to the great sor- 
row of the lady, as I did hear the story told me by M. de 
Monluc, one time we were together in the trenches at 
Rochelle. It was night and we were talking together, 
when I related to him the tale of the robe and its device; 
on this he assured me he had seen the said Countess, who 
was very fair, and did love the Marechal well, and how 
he had been most honourably entreated of her. For the 
rest he knew not if ever they had gone further at all. 
This example should be warning enough for many of the 
ladies the which I have spoken of above. 

Then again, there be cuckolds which are so righteous 
they have their wives preached to and admonished by good 
and religious men, with a view to their conversion and 
reform. And these, with forced tears and words of pre- 
tended sorrow, do make many vows, promising mountains 
and marvels of repentance, and never, never to do the like 
again. But their oaths do scarce endure an instant, for 
truly the vows and tears of suchlike dames are of just so 
much weight as are the oaths and adjurations of lovers. 





So have I seen and known well a certain lady to the which 
a great Prince, her Sovereign, did offer the affront of 
commissioning appointing a Cordelier monk, as from him- 
self and coming from the Court, to go find her husband, 
who was spending his vacation on his estate, to warn the 
same of his wife's reckless loves and the ill report current 
of the wrong she was doing him, and to say how, for the 
respect due to his position and office, he was sending him 
timely news thereof, to the end he might correct this sin- 
ful soul. The husband was greatly astounded and moved 
at such a message and kindly warning; yet did take no 
overt action, except only to thank his Prince and assure 
him he would see to the matter. Yet on his return he 
did make no difference for the worse in his treatment of 
his wife; for truly what would he have gained thereby? 
Once a woman hath taken to these courses, naught will 
alter her, like a posthorse which is grown so thoroughly 
used to go at the gallop that he can in no wise learn to 
go any other gait whatsoever. 

Alas! how oft have we seen honourable ladies which, 
having been surprised at these tricks, and thereupon chid 
and beaten, yea! and admonished by every prayer and 
remonstrance not to return to the like course, do prom- 
ise, protest and swear they will behave them chastely, yet 
do presently illustrate the proverb, passato il periglio, 
gabbato il santo (the danger past, the Saint is mocked), 
and return again with all the more zest to the game of 
love. Nay ! many have we seen, which themselves feeling 
some worm of remorse gnawing their soul, have of their 
proper act made holy and right solemn vows of reforma- 
tion, yet have never kept them, but presently have re- 





pented of their repentance, as M. du Bellay doth say of 
penitent courtesans: 2 

Mere d'amour, suivant mes premiers vceux, 
Dessous tes lois remettre je me veux, 
Dont je voudrois n'estre jamais sortie; 
Et me repens de m'estre repentie. 

(Mother of love, returning to my earlier vows, I am fain to 
put me again beneath thy laws, which I would I had never 
deserted; lo! I repent me of my penitence.) 

Such women declare 'tis exceeding hard to give up for- 
ever so sweet a habit and fond custom, seeing their time is 
so short in this brief sojourn they make in this world. 

To confirm what I here say I would readily appeal 
to many a fair maid, which hath repented in youth and 
taken the veil and become a nun. If such were asked 
on her faith and conscience what she did really desire, 
many a time, I know, she would say, "Ah ! would the high 
convent walls were broken down, that I might straight 
be free again !" 

Wherefore husbands need never think to reduce their 
wives to order again, after once these have made the first 
breach in their honour, or that they can aught else but 
only give them the rein, merely recommending discretion 
and all possible avoidance of scandal. For truly we may 
apply all the remedies of love which ever Ovid taught, and 
an host of other subtle remedies that others have in- 
vented, yea ! and those puissant ones of Fra^ois Rabe- 
lais, 3 which he did teach to the venerable Panurge, yet 
will none of them all avail. But 'twere best of all to 
follow the advice given in the refrain of an old song of 
King Francis' time, which saith, 




Qui voudroit garder qu'une femme 
N'aille du tout a 1' abandon, 
II faudroit la fermer dans une pipe, 
Et en jouir par le bondon. 

(If a man would make sure of his wife never going to the 
bad at all, he had best shut her up in a cask, and enjoy her 
through the bung-hole.) 

In the reign of the late King Henri of France there 
was a certain jeweller which did import and expose for 
sale at the great Fair of St. Germains a round dozen of 
a certain contrivance for confining women's affairs. 4 
These were made of iron and were worn like a belt, join- 
ing underneath and locking with a key, and were so cun- 
ningly framed that the woman, once confined therein, 
could never find opportunity for the pleasures of love, 
there being only a few little tiny holes in the thing for 
empissoyent through. 

'Tis said that five or six jealous husbands were found 
ready to buy one, wherewith they did confine their wives 
in such wise they might well say, "Good-bye, good times 
for ever and aye!" Yet was there one wife who be- 
thought her to apply to a locksmith very cunning in his 
art. So, when she had shown him the said contrivance, 
her husband being away in the country, he did so well use 
his ingenuity that he forged a false key therefor, so that 
the good lady could open and shut the thing at any time, 
whenever she would. The husband did never suspect or 
say a word, while the wife took her fill of the best of all 
pleasures, in spite of the jealous fool and silly cuckold 
her husband, who did imagine all the time he was living 
free of all apprehension of such a fate. But truly the 


liraralffwWWW ! al?rflltfflif^ 



naughty locksmith, which made the false key, quite spoiled 
his game ; yea \ and did even better, by what they say, for 
he was the first who tasted the dainty, and cuckolded him. 
Nor was this so extraordinary, for did not Venus, which 
was the fairest woman and harlot in all the world, mate 
with Vulcan, ironworker and locksmith, the which was 
exceeding mean-looking, foul, lame and hideous. 

They say, moreover, that there were a number of gal- 
lant and honourable gentlemen of the Court which did 
threaten the jeweller that if ever again he should have 
aught to do with bringing such villainies with him, he 
would be killed. They bade him never come back again, 
and made him throw all the others that were left into 
the draught-house ; and since then no more has been heard 
of such contrivances. And this was wisely done; for 
truly 'twas as good, or as bad, as destroying one half of 
mankind, so to hinder the engendering of posterity by 
dint of such confining, locking up and imprisoning of 
nature,-^-an abominable and hateful wrong to human pro- 

Some there be which do give their wives into the hands 
of eunuchs to guard their honour, a thing which the Em- 
peror Alexander Severus did strongly reprobate, harshly 
bidding them never have dealings with Roman ladies. But 
they were soon recalled again. Not indeed that these 
could ever beget children or the women conceive of them; 
yet can they afford some slight feeling and superficial 
taste of minor pleasures, giving some colourable imita- 
tion of the complete and perfect bliss. Of this many 
husbands do take very little account, declaring that their 
main grievance in the adultery of their wives had naught 
at all to do with what they got given them, but that it 




vexed them sore to have to rear and bring up and recog- 
nise as heirs children they had never begotten. 

Indeed but for this, there is nothing they would have 
made less ado about. Thus have I known not a few hus- 
bands, who when they did find the lovers, who had made 
their wives children, to be easy and good-natured, and 
ready to give freely and keep them, took no more account 
of the thing at all, or even advised their wives to beg of 
them and crave some allowance to keep the little one they 
had had of them. 

So have I heard tell of a great lady, which was the 
mother of Villeconnin, natural son of Francis I. The 
same did beseech the King to give or assign her some little 
property, before he died, for the child he had begot, 
and this he did. He made over for this end two hun- 
dred thousand crowns in bank, which did profit him well 
and ran on ever growing, what with interest and re-in- 
vestment, in such wise that it became a great sum and 
he did spend money with such magnificence and seemed 
in such good case and ample funds at Court that all were 
astonished thereat. And all thought he enjoyed the fa- 
vours of some mysterious lady. None believed her his 
mother, but, seeing he never went about without her, it 
was universally supposed the great expenditure he made 
did come from his connexion with her. Yet it was not 
so at all, for she was really his mother; though few peo- 
ple were ware of it. Nor was anything known for sure 
of his lineage or birth, except that he eventually died at 
Constantinople, and that his inheritance as King's bastard 
was given to the Marechal de Retz, who was keen and cun- 
ning enough to have discovered this little secret which he 
was able to turn to his profit, and did verify the bastardy 



which had been so long hid. Thus he did win the gift of 
this inheritance over the head of M. de Teligny, who had 
been constituted heir of the aforesaid Villeconnin. 

Other folk, however, declared that the said lady had had 
the child by another than the King, and had so enriched 
him out of her own fortune. But M. de Retz did scruti- 
nize and search among the banks so carefully that he did 
find the money and the original securities of King Fran- 
cis. For all this some still held the child to have been 
the son of another Prince not so high as the King, or some 
one else of inferior rank, maintaining that for the pur- 
pose of covering up and concealing the whole thing and 
yet providing the child a maintenance, 'twas no bad de- 
vice to lay it all to his Majesty's account, as indeed hath 
been done in other instances. 

This much I do firmly believe, that there be many 
women in the world, nay! even in France, which if only 
they thought they could bring children into existence at 
this rate, would right readily suffer Kings and great 
Princes to mount on their bellies. But in very fact they 
ofttimes so mount without any grand regale following. 
Then are the poor ladies sore deceived and disappointed, 
for when they do consent to give themselves to suchlike 
great personages, 'tis only to have the galardon (guer- 
don, recompense), as folk say in Spanish. 

Now as to such putative and doubtful children, a ques- 
tion doth arise open to much dispute, to wit whether they 
ought to succeed to their father's and mother's goods, 
some maintaining 'tis a great sin for women to make them 
so succeed. Some authorities have declared the woman 
should surely reveal the thing to the husband and tell him 





the whole truth, and this is the opinion held by the well- 
known "Subtle Doctor." Others on the contrary hold 
this opinion to be bad, because the woman would then be 
defaming herself by revealing it, and this she is in no wise 
bound to do ; for good repute is a more precious posses- 
sion than riches, saith Solomon. 

'Tis better then for the goods to be taken, even un- 
justly, by the child than that the mother's good name be 
lost, for as a proverb hath it, "A good name is better 
than a golden girdle." Now the Theologians hold a 
maxim to the effect that when two opposite precepts and 
commands are binding on us, the less must give way to the 
greater. But the command to guard one's repute is 
greater and more stringent than that which orders to 
restore another's goods; and so must be preferred be- 
fore it. 

Nay! more, if the wife do reveal this to her husband, 
she doth thereby put herself in danger of being actually 
killed at his hands; but it is straitly forbid for any to 
compass their own death. 


EITHER is it allowed a woman to kill herself 
for dread of being violated, or after being so ; 
else would she be doing a mortal sin. Where- 
fore is it better for her to suffer herself to be 
ravished, if that she can in no wise by fight or crying out 
avoid the same, than to kill herself. For the violation 
of the body is not sin, except with the consent of the will. 
Hence the reply which Saint Lucy did make to the tyrant 
who threatened to have her taken to the brothel. "If 




you have me forced," she said, "why ! my chastity will re- 
ceive a double crown." 

For this cause Lucretia hath been found to blame by 
some. True it is Saint Sabina and Saint Sophronia, 
along with other Christian virgins, who did take their own 
lives rather than fall into the hands of barbarians, are 
excused by our doctors and fathers of the Church, which 
say they did so by special prompting of the Holy Spirit. 
By this same prompting, after the taking of Cyprus, a 
certain Cypriote damsel, lately made Christian, seeing 
herself being carried off as a slave with many another 
lady of her sort, to be the prey of Turks, did secretly 
fire the powder magazine in the galley, so that in an in- 
stant all was burned up and consumed along with her, 
saying, "So please God, our bodies will never be polluted 
and ravished by these foul Turks and Saracens !" Or 'tis 
possible, God knows, it had already been polluted and she 
was fain to do penance therefor, unless indeed the fact 
was her master had refrained from touching her, to the 
end he might make more money by selling her a maid, see- 
ing men are desirous in those lands, as indeed in all other 
lands, to taste a fresh and untainted morsel. 

However, to return to the noble custodians of these 
poor women, the eunuchs. These, as I have said, are 
not utterly unable to do adultery with them and make 
their husbands cuckold, excepting always the engender- 
ing of children. 

I knew two women in France which did deliberately set 
their love on two gentlemen who were castrate, to the end 
they might not become with child ; yet did they find pleas- 
ure therein, and free from all fear of scandal. But there 
have been husbands in Turkey and Barbary so jealous, 



that having discovered this deceit, they have determined 
to castrate their wretched slaves altogether and entirely, 
and cut the whole concern clean off. Now, by what those 
say who have had experience of Turkey, not two out of 
the dozen escape of those on whom they do practise this 
cruelty, and do not die therefrom. Them that do sur- 
vive, they do cherish and make much of, as true, certain 
and chaste guardians of their wives' chastity and sure 
guarantors of their honour. 

We Christians on our part do not practise suchlike 
abominable and too utterly horrible cruelties ; but instead 
of these castrated slaves, we give our women old men of 
sixty for guardians. This for instance is done in Spain, 
even at the Court of the Queens of that country, where 
I have seen them as custodians of the maids of honour 
and Court ladies. Yet, God knows, there be old men more 
dangerous for ruining maids and wives than any young 
ones, and an hundred times more hot, ingenious and per- 
severing to gain over and corrupt the same. 

I do not believe such men, for all they be hoary headed 
and white bearded, are more sure guardians at all than 
younger men, nor old women neither. Thus an aged 
Spanish duenna once, taking out her maids and passing 
by a great hall and seeing men's members painted up on 
the wall in lifelike portrayal, only exaggerated and out 
of all proportion, did remark, Mira que tan bravos no los 
pintan estos hombres, como quien no los conociese (Look 
how brave men those be, and how ill they have painted 
them, like one who has never seen the things). Then all 
her maids did turn toward her, and noted what she said, 
except one, of my acquaintance, who acting the ingenue, 
did ask one of her companions what birds those were; 





for some of them were depicted with wings. And the 
other made answer, they were birds of Barbary, more 
beautiful in reality than even as depicted. God only 
knows if she had ever seen any such ; but she had to make 
what pretence she could. 

Many husbands are sore deceived, and often, in their 
duennas. For they think, provided only their women- 
kind are in the charge of some old woman, whom both 
parties do call mother as a title of respect, that they must 
needs be well safeguarded in front. Yet none are more 
easy than such guardians to be bribed and won over; 
for being as they are, avaricious of their very nature, 
they are ready to take gold from any quarter to sell their 

Others again cannot be forever on the watch over their 
young charges, who themselves are always wide awake 
and on the alert, especially when they be in love; for 
truly most of their time the old dames will be asleep in 
the chimney-corner, while before their very face the hus- 
bands will be a-cuckolding, without their heeding or know- 
ing aught about it. 

I knew once a lady which did it before her duenna's 
very eyes, in such cunning wise she never perceived any- 
thing wrong. Another did the like in her own husband's 
presence and all but under his eyes, the while he was 
playing at primero. 

Then other aged dames will be feeble of foot, and cannot 
follow up their ladies at a round pace, so that by the time 
they do reach the extremity of a walk or a wood or a 
room, the young ones have whipped their little present 
into their pocket, without the old duenna having observed 
what was a-doing, or seen aught whatever, being slow 





of foot and dim of sight. Again there be yet other dames 
of the sort which, themselves having plied the trade of 
old, do think it pity to see the young fast, and are so 
good-natured to them, they will of their own accord open 
the way for their charges, yea! and provoke them to 
follow in the same, and help them all they can. Thus 
Aretino saith how the greatest of pleasures for a woman 
that hath travelled that road, and her highest satisfac- 
tion, is ever to make another do likewise. 

And this is why, when a man doth crave the aid of a 
good minister for his amours, he will alway apply and 
address himself to an old procuress rather than to a young 
woman. So I do remember a certain very gallant gen- 
tleman, which did mislike sorely, and did forbid it ex- 
pressly, that his wife should ever frequent the company 
of old women, as being much too dangerous society, 
but with younger women she might go as much as she 
pleased. And for this course he would adduce many 
excellent reasons, the which I will leave to men of apter 
discourse than I to detail in full. 

And this is why a certain Lord of the great world I 
know of did entrust his wife, of whom he was very jealous, 
to a lady, a cousin of his own, but unmarried, to be her 
surveillante. This office she did zealously perform, albeit 
for her own part she did copy the half only of the char- 
acter of the gardener's dog, seeing he doth never eat the 
cabbage out of his master's garden, nor yet will suffer 
other to do so ; but this lady would eat readily enough, 
but would never suffer her cousin. Yet was the other 
forever filching some dainty bit, without her noting it, 
cunning as she was, or mayhap she did but make pre- 
tence not to see. 





I could right easily adduce an host of devices which 
poor jealous cuckolds do employ to confine, constrain, 
curb and keep in their wives, that they kick not over the 
traces. But it is of mighty little use for them either to 
try these ancient means they have heard tell of, or to 
invent new ones ; they but lose their labour. For once 
women have gotten this naughty worm of love in their 
heads, they will ever be sending their poor husbands to 
keep house with Guillot the Pensive. And hereof do I 
hope to discourse further in a chapter I have already half 
writ, on the ruses and stratagems of women in this matter, 
the which I do compare with the ambuscades and strata- 
gems of soldiers in war. But the finest device of all, the 
most sure and eke the kindest preventive a jealous hus- 
band can apply to his wife, is ever to let her go her way 
in full liberty, as I have heard a very gallant married 
man declare, for that it is the woman's nature the more 
she is forbid a thing, so much the more to long for the 
same; and this is especially true in love, where the appe- 
tite doth grow far hotter by forbidding than by letting 
things take their course. 

Then is there another sort of cuckolds, as to whom doth 
arise the following question, to wit, whether if a man 
hath had full enjoyment of a woman during the lifetime 
of her cuckold husband, and this latter die, and the lover 
do afterward marry the widow in second nuptials, he 
ought to wear the name and title of cuckold, a case I 
have heard debated in regard to several, and these great 

Some there be do say he cannot be cuckold, because it is 
himself did have the doing of it, and no one else did make 
him so but only himself, and the horns were made by him 




and no other. Yet are there many armourors that do 
malce swords whereby themselves are killed, or do kill 
each other. 

Others again say he is really cuckold, but only in 
embryo. For this they do allege many reasons, but see- 
ing the process is yet undecided, I leave it to be pleaded 
before the first audience that will listen to the case. 

The same may be said concerning a very great lady, 
and a married one, which did break her marriage vow 
fourteen years agone with the lover who doth keep to her 
still, and since that day hath been ever awaiting and 
longing for her husband's death. But the devil is in it 
if he hath ever yet contrived to die to meet her wishes ! 
So that she might well say, "Cursed be the husband and 
mate, which hath lived longer than I desired !" Sicknesses 
and calamities of body he hath had galore, but never 
fatal. In fact our King, the last Henri, having bestowed 
the inheritance in the fine and rich estate the said cuckold 
husband had of him on a very honourable and brave gen- 
tleman, would ofttimes say, "Two persons there be at my 
Court which are thinking it long till so and so die, one for 
his estate's sake and the other to wed her lover. But both 
one and the other have been sore deluded up to now." 

See how wise and foreseeing God is, not to send folk 
what they wish, when it is evil. However, I have been 
told that for some while past this pair are in ill accord, 
and have now burned their promise of future marriage 
and broke the agreement, to the huge despite of the 
lady and joy of the prospective husband, seeing he did in 
no wise desire to go on longer and wait forever for the 
death of the other. This last was alway making a mock 
of folk, continually giving alarms, as that he was just 




about to die ; yet in the end he hath survived his would-be 
supplanter. An instance surely of God's punishment, 
for a marriage so made is a thing all but unheard of ; and 
indeed 'tis a great sin, and an odious, to contract and 
agree upon a second marriage, the first being still exist- 
ent in its entirety. 

I had rather have one, also a great lady, albeit not so 
great as the other I have just spoke of, who being sought 
of a nobleman in marriage, did wed him, not for the love 
she bare him, but because she saw him sickly, thin and 
worn, and in constant ill-health, and as the doctors told 
her he would not outlive the year, even after having known 
this fair lady several times abed. Wherefore she did 
expect his death very soon, and did make all dispositions 
after his demise as to his goods and property, fine plenish- 
ing and great wealth, which he did bring her by marriage ; 
for he was a nobleman of much riches and very well-to-do. 
But she was finely cheated; for he liveth still a sturdy 
wight, and in better fettle an hundred times than before 
he married her ; since then the lady herself is dead. They 
say the aforesaid nobleman was used to feign to be sickly 
and ailing to the end that, knowing as he did the lady to 
be exceeding avaricious, she might wed him in the hope 
of getting so rich an inheritance. Yet did God above 
dispose it all quite contrariwise, and made the she-goat 
feed where she had been tied, in spite of herself. 

Now what shall we say of such men as do wed with 
harlots and courtesans, that are very famous, as is com- 
monly done in France, but still more in Spain and Italy, 
where men are persuaded they are winning God's mercy 
for good deeds, por librar un' anima Christiana del in- 




fierno, "for delivering a Christian soul from hell," as 
they say, and setting it in the right way. 

I have undoubtedly seen some men maintain this opin- 
ion and doctrine, that if they did marry them for this 
good and religious object, they ought in no wise to be 
ranked as cuckolds. For surely what is done for the 
honour of God should not be made a matter of shame. 
This, of course, provided that their wives, once started 
afresh in the right way, do not leave it again and return 
to the other. So have I seen some of these women in the 
two countries named which did sin no more after being 
married, but others that could never reform, and went 
back to trip and stumble in the old ditch. 

The first time ever I was in Italy, I fell in love with a 
very beautiful courtesan of Rome, who was called Faus- 
tina. But seeing I had no great wealth, and she was of 
a very high price, from ten to twelve crowns a night, I 
was constrained to content me with words and looks only. 
After some time I paid a second visit to the same city, 
and being now better furnished with money, I went to 
visit her at her lodging by the introduction of another 
lady, and did find her married to a man of the law, though 
still established in her old quarters. She did welcome me 
affectionately, and recounted me the good fortune of her 
marriage, repudiating altogether the follies of her previ- 
ous life, to the which she had said farewell forever. I 
did then show her an handful of good French crowns, for 
indeed I was dying of love for her worse than ever. She 
was tempted at the sight and did grant me that I longed 
for, saying how in concluding marriage, she had claimed 
and agreed with her husband for her entire liberty, 
without scandal, however, or concealment, and only at the 



price of a large sum, to the end the pair of them might 
live in affluence. She was therefore to be had only by 
wealthy men; and to them he would yield very willingly, 
but not to petty customers at all. Truly here was a 
husband cuckold out and out, in bud and blossom too. 

I have heard speak of a lady of the great world who, in 
concluding marriage, did desire and stipulate that her 
husband should leave her at Court to follow the pursuit 
of love, reserving herself alway the use of her forest of 
dead-wood or common faggot at her own good pleasure. 
However, in return, she was to give him every month a 
thousand francs for his little indulgences of every day. 
In fact the one thought was to have a merry life of it. 

Thus it is, such women as have been free, cannot easily 
refrain, but will e'en burst the strait bars of the doors 
imprisoning them, however strong these be and well 
guarded, wherever gold doth clink and glitter. Witness 
the beauteous daughter of King Acrisius (Danae), who 
all confined and imprisoned in her great tower as she 
was, yet did feel the persuasive drops of Jupiter's fair 
rain of gold, and admit the same. 

Ah! how hard it is, a gallant gentleman of my ac- 
quaintance used to say, to safeguard a woman which is 
fair, ambitious, greedy and covetous of being bravely 
attired, and richly dressed, gaily decked out and well 
appointed, so that she lay not cul en terre, no matter 
how well armed, as they say, her fort be, and however 
brave and valiant a man her husband be, and albeit he 
doth carry a good sword to defend her withal. 

I have known so many of these same brave and valiant 
folk which have all gone this road. And truly 'tis great 
pity to see these honourable and brave men come to this, 





and that, after so many gallant victories won by them, 
so many notable conquests over their enemies and noble 
combats decided by their valour, they should yet be 
forced to carry horns intermingled among the fair flowers 
and leaves of the crowns of triumph they wear, horns 
which do altogether spoil the effect thereof. Yet do they 
think far more of their high ambitions and noble com- 
bats, their honourable emprises and valiant exploits, than 
of safeguarding their wives and throwing light on their 
dark places. And this is how, without more ado, they do 
come to the city of Cuckoldland and the conquest of the 
same. Yet is it a sore pity. For instance, I once knew 
a very brave and valiant gentleman, bearing a very high 
name and title, who was one day proudly telling over his 
valiant deeds and conquests, when a very honourable and 
noble gentleman, his comrade and friend, who was pres- 
ent, did say, "Yes! there he is telling us of all his won- 
derful conquests ; but truly to master his own wife's affair 
is the greatest of all he hath ever won, or ever will!" 

Many others have I known, who no matter what grace, 
majesty and proud carriage they might show, yet did 
every one display that look of the cuckold which doth 
spoil all the rest. For truly this look and defect cannot 
ever be hid or dissembled; no confidence of bearing and 
gesture whatsoever can hinder its being known and evi- 
dently noted. And for myself, never have I seen any 
one of these folk in all my life but did have their own dis- 
tinctive marks, gestures, postures, looks and defects, 
excepting only one I knew once, in whom the most keen- 
sighted could have found naught to observe or take hold 
of, without knowing his wife as well ; such an easy grace, 



] 3&}i!m!S^!$sy^f^^ 

pleasant manners, and honourable, dignified deportment 
were his. 

I would earnestly beg ladies which have husbands so 
perfect not to play them such tricks and put such affronts 
on them. But then they might in their turn retort upon 
me, "Nay ! tell us where are to be found these perfect 
husbands, such as was the man whose example you have 
just quoted to us?" 

Verily, ladies, you are right ; for that all men cannot be 
Scipios and Caesars. I hold, therefore, that herein ye 
must e'en follow your fancies. For indeed, speaking of 
the Caesars, the most gallant of mankind have all gone 
this road, and the most virtuous and perfect, as I have 
said above and as we do read of that enlightened Em- 
peror Trajan, 2 whose perfections, however, could not hin- 
der his wife Plotina from yielding herself up entirely to 
the good pleasure of Hadrian, which was Emperor after- 
ward. From her did this last win great advantages, 
profits and aggrandisement, so much so that she was the 
chief cause of his advancement. Nor was he in any wise 
ungrateful, after he had come to greatness, for he did 
love her and ever honour her right well. And after her 
death he did make such mourning and felt such sadness 
that at the last he did altogether lose all wish to eat and 
drink for a while, and was forced to tarry in Narbonese 
Gaul, where he had heard the sad tidings, three or four 
months, during which time he writ to the Senate order- 
ing them to stablish Plotina in the number of the God- 
desses, and did command that at her funeral sacrifices, 
exceeding rich and sumptuous, should be offered. Mean- 
time he did employ his leisure in building and raising up, 
to her honour and memory, a very beautiful temple near 




Nemausus, now called Nimes, adorned with most fair and 
rich marbles and porphyries, with other gawds. 

See then how in matters of love and its satisfaction, 
naught at all can be laid down for certain. For truly 
Cupid the God thereof is blind, as doth clearly appear in 
sundry women, which having husbands as handsome and 
honourable and accomplished as can anywhere be seen, 
yet do fall in love with other men as ill-favoured and 
foul as mortals may be. 

I have seen many cases that did force one to ask this 
question : Which is the more whorish dame, she that hath 
a right handsome and honourable husband, yet taketh an 
ill-favoured lover, one that is evil-tempered and quite un- 
like her husband; or she which hath an ill-favoured and 
ill-conditioned husband, and doth take a handsome, agree- 
able lover, and yet ceaseth not to love and fondly caress 
her husband, as if he were the prince of men for beauty, 
as myself have seen many a woman do? 

Of a surety the common voice doth declare that she 
which, having an handsome husband, yet doth leave the 
same to love an ill-favoured lover is a very great whore, 
just as a person is surely a foul glutton which doth quit 
good food to eat of bad. So when a woman doth quit an 
handsome piece to take up with an ill-favoured, it hath 
all the semblance of her doing this out of sheer lecherous- 
ness, seeing there is naught more licentious and more 
fitted to satisfy licentiousness than an ugly man, with a 
savour more after the fashion of a stinking, filthy and 
lascivious goat than of a proper man. And in very deed 
handsome and honourable men are something more deli- 
cate and less apt to satiate an excessive and unbridled 





wantonness than is a coarse, bearded, lewd fellow, some 
big ramping countrified satyr. 

Others maintain that the woman which doth love a 
handsome lover and an ill-favoured husband, and doth 
caress them both, is at the least as great a whore as the 
other, for that she is fain to lose naught whatever of her 
ordinary diet and sustenance. 

Such women are like them that travel in foreign lands, 
yea ! and in France to boot, which being arrived at night 
at the inn to supper, do never forget to claim of mine host 
the wheeler's measure. Yea! and the fellow must needs 
have it too, albeit he should be full of good liquor to the 
throat already. 

So will these dames, when night comes, never be without 
their "wheeler's measure," as was the way with one I 
Icnew well, who yet had a husband that was a right good 
performer. Natheless are they fain to increase and re- 
double their pleasure by any means they may, liking to 
have the lover for the day, which doth show up his beauty 
and so make the lady more eager for the fray, and give 
her more delight and satisfaction by reason of the good 
daylight. But the worthy husband with his ill-favoured 
face is kept for nighttime ; for truly, as they say all cats 
are grey at night, and provided the lady have satisfaction 
of her appetites, she recks naught whether her mate is 
ill or well favoured. 

Indeed, as I learn from sundry, when one is in these 
ecstasies of amorous pleasure, neither man nor woman 
reck aught of any other thing or thought whatever, but 
only what they are at for the instant ; albeit on the other 
hand I have it on good authority how many dames have 
persuaded their lovers that, when they were at it with their 





husbands, they would ever give their thoughts to their 
lovers, and not reck at all of their husbands, in order to 
get the greater pleasure therefrom. So likewise have 
I heard husbands declare that when with their wives, they 
would be alway thinking of their mistresses with the like 
object. But these be disagreeable subjects! 

Natural philosophers have told me that none but the 
present object of passion can possibly dominate them at 
this crisis, and in no wise the absent ; and give many rea- 
sons for their opinion. However I am not philosopher 
enough nor sufficiently learned to contradict them; and 
besides sundry of their reasons are filthy ones, and I would 
fain ever preserve decency. But for these predilections 
for all-favoured loves, I have seen many such in my day 
that have astonished me an hundred times over. 

Returning once from a journey in a foreign land, I 
will not give the name, for fear men should recognise 
whereof I speak, and discoursing with a noble lady of 
the great world, I chanced to speak of another great lady 
and Princess, the which I had seen in those parts ; where- 
upon she did ask me as to this latter's love affairs. So 
I told her the name of the personage whom she held fa- 
vourite, one that was neither handsome nor of graceful 
presence, and of very low degree. Her reply was, 
"Verily she doth herself great wrong, and eke plays love 
a sorry trick, seeing she is so fair and honourable a lady, 
as all men hold." 

And the said lady was surely right in the language 
she held, for that herself did act accordingly, and gainsaid 
not her opinions. For she had a worthy and honourable 
lover, whom she cherished right well. And when all is 
said, a fair lady will be doing no harm in loving, if only 




she will choose a worthy object of her love, nor wronging 
her husband neither, if for no other reason, at least for 
the sake of their descendants. This, seeing there be hus- 
bands that are so ill-favoured, so stupid, senseless and 
silly, so graceless and cowardly, so poor spirited and good 
for naught, that their wives, having children of them 
and like them, might as well have none at all. And in- 
deed myself have known many ladies, which have borne 
children to suchlike husbands, and these have been all of 
them just like their fathers; yet afterward, when they 
have e'en borrowed one or two from their lovers, these 
have surpassed their supposed fathers, their brothers and 
sisters in all things whatsoever. 

Some, moreover, among philosophers which have treated 
of this matter, have always maintained how that children 
thus borrowed by stealth, or stolen, if you will, thus en- 
gendered under the rose, and on the spur of the moment, 
are ever far more gallant, and recall more the merry 
fashion wherein they are used to be created, nimbly and 
cleverly, than such as are begot in bed, heavily, dully, 
ponderously, at leisure, their parents more than half 
asleep the while, giving never a thought but of brutish 
satisfaction to the pleasure in hand. 

In like wise have I heard them that have charge of the 
stud-farms of kings and great lords say how they have 
many a time seen better foals got stealthily by their dams 
than others bred with every precaution by the masters of 
the stud, and from stallions specially chosen and assigned 
thereto. And so it is with human beings. 

How many cases have I seen where ladies have borne 
handsomer and braver and more excellent children than 
they would have done, if the putative fathers had really 



begotten them, mere calves and brute beasts as they 
would then have been. 

A good reason why women are well advised to seek the 
help and commodity of good and handsome stallions, to 
the end they may produce good offspring. Yet I have 
seen on the other hand some which had handsome hus- 
bands, but did nevertheless call in the aid of ill-favoured 
lovers and base stallions, which did beget ugly and evil- 
conditioned descendants. 

This indeed is one of the most signal commodities and 
incommodities of the state of cuckoldry. 

I once knew a great lady of society which had an ex- 
ceeding ill-favoured and ill-bred husband; and of four 
girls and two boys she had, there were only two good for 
aught, being children of her lover, while the others, com- 
ing of her scrub of a husband, I had all but said her 
screech-owl of a husband, for truly he had all the look of 
one, were but poor misbegotten creatures. 

Now herein doth it behoove ladies to be very well ad- 
vised and cunning withal, for as a rule children do resem- 
ble their fathers, and whenas they do not so, bring grave 
suspicion on their mothers' honour. So have I seen in 
my life many fair ladies possessed of this craze, to have it 
said and thought of all the world that their children do 
altogether resemble their father and not themselves, 
though really they are not the least like them. For to say 
so is the greatest pleasure one can do them, seeing there 
is then presumption they have not borrowed them from 
any other, however opposite the truth may really be. 

One time I was present at a great assemblage of the 
Court, whereat folk were discussing the portraits of two 
daughters of a certain very great Queen. Each stated 





his opinion as to whom they did resemble, in such wise 
that all, men and women, declared they took altogether 
after the mother. But I, being a most humble servant 
and admirer of the mother, did hold the other side, and 
maintained stoutly they took entirely after the father, 
and that if only they had known and seen the same as 
intimately as I had, they would grant me it was so. 
Whereupon the Queen's sister did thank me for my words, 
and was exceeding grateful to me, seeing there were sun- 
dry persons, which did say what they did, of set purpose, 
to raise suspicion of her going astray in love, the more 
that there was something of dust in her flute, as the say- 
ing is. Thus did my judgement as to the children's like- 
ness to their father put all right again. Wherefore in 
this matter, whosoever shall love a lady and shall be 
looking upon children of her blood and bone, let him 
alway declare these do take after the father altogether, 
whether it be so or no. 

True they will do no hurt, if they maintain the chil- 
dren take a little after the mother, as was said by a gen- 
tleman of the Court, a chief friend of mine, speaking in 
company of two gentlemen, brothers and high favourites 
with the King. Being asked which they were like, the 
father or mother, he did make answer that the one which 
was cold was like the father, and the other, which was hot, 
the mother. By this quip giving a pretty stroke at the 
mother, who was of a somewhat hot complexion. And as 
a matter of fact these two children did partake of these 
two several humours, the hot and the cold. 

There is yet another sort of cuckolds, they which are 
made such by reason of the scorn they show their wives. 
Thus I have known several who, though having fair and 





honourable dames to wife, did take no account of them, 
but would ever scorn and disdain them. These being 
sharp of wit and full of spirit, and of good family to boot, 
seeing themselves so disdained, did proceed to pay them 
back in their own coin. Quick was there fine love mak- 
ing, and quick the accomplishment of the same; for as 
saith the Italian and Neapolitan catch, amor non si vince 
con altro che con sdegno "love si mastered by scorn, 
and scorn only." 

For so a fair and honourable lady, and one that doth 
know herself such and taketh pride therein, seeing her 
husband treating her with mere disdain, though she should 
bear him the fondest wifely love in the world, and albeit 
they should preach and put before her all the commands 
of the law to love and honour him, yet if she have the least 
spark of spirit, will she leave him in the lurch and take a 
lover elsewhere to help her in her little needs, and choose 
her out some private pleasure of her own. 

I knew once two ladies of the Court, that were sisters- 
in-law. Of these the one had married an husband which 
was high in favour, a courtier and an adroit one. Yet 
did he not make such account of his wife as it behooved, 
seeing the birth she was of, but would speak to her before 
company as she were a mere savage, and treat her very 
roughly. This behaviour she did endure patiently for a 
while, till at length the husband did fall something out 
of favour. Then noting her opportunity and taking it 
cleverly as it came, having indeed waited for a good one, 
she straightway paid him back the scorn he had put on 
her, lightly and gaily making the poor man cuckold. And 
her sister did likewise, following her example. This last 
had been wed when very young and of tender years, so 





that her husband took no great heed of her, deeming her 
a mere chit and child, and did not love her as he should. 
But she coming to a riper time of life, and finding out 
she had a heart and was fair to look on, did soon pay him 
back in his own coin, and so made him a present of a fine 
pair of horns by way of interest on his past neglect. 

Another time I knew a great Lord, which having taken 
two courtesans into favour, whereof one was a Moorish 
woman, to be his delight and joy of heart, did make no 
account of his wife, albeit she did seek to him with all 
due respect, and all the wifely love and reverence ever 
she could. Yet could he never look upon her with a fa- 
vourable eye, or cherish her with a good grace, and of an 
hundred nights he would hardly bestow twain on her. 
What must she do then, the poor girl, after so many 
indignities, but what she did, choose another vacant bed, 
and couple with another better half, and so take that she 
was fain of? . 

At least she had been justified, if the husband had been 
like another I know of, who was of a like humour, and 
being pressed by his wife, a very fair lady and one that 
did take her joy elsewhere than at home, did tell her 
frankly : "Well ! well ! take your pleasures abroad ; I give 
you full leave. Do on your part what you please with 
another; I leave you in perfect liberty. Only make no 
trouble about my amours, and suffer me to do as I like. 
I will never hinder your pleasures and satisfaction; so 
do not you hinder mine." So, each independent of the 
other, the twain did go forth on their merry way, one 
to right, the other to left, without a thought or care for 
one another; a good and happy life truly! 

No less should I commend a certain old man I knew 




once, who being impotent, sickly and gouty, did say thus 
one fine day to his wife, who was very fair, seeing clearly 
he could not satisfy her as she was fain to be dealt with : 
"I know right well, my pretty, how that my impotence 
accords ill with your heartsome years. This may well 
make me odious to you, and render it impossible to you 
to be my loving wife, as if I could to you the regular 
offices a strong, robust husband should. So I have 
thought good to suffer you and grant you full freedom 
to love some other, and borrow one that may satisfy you 
better than I can. But above all, I pray you choose out 
one that is discreet and modest, and will in no wise bring 
scandal on you, nor on me neither. And may he make 
you a pair of fine lads, the which I will love and rear as 
my own, in such wise that all men shall think them our 
own true and lawful offspring. And this is the more 
possible, seeing I have still in me some show of vigour and 
strength, and appearance enough of bodily manhood to 
make folk suppose them mine." 

I leave you to suppose whether the fair girl was glad 
to receive this agreeable little homily, and free leave to 
enjoy such pleasing liberty. This she did turn to such 
good account that in a twinkling she did people the house 
with two or three fine infants, wherein the husband, inas- 
much as he did touch her at times and sleep with her, 
might deem he had some share, and did actually think so, 
and the neighbours and every one. In such wise were 
both husband and wife well pleased, and had good prog- 
eny, to boot. 

Here again is another sort of cuckolds, they which are 
made so by reason of an amiable opinion certain women 
hold, to wit that there is no thing nobler and more lawful 





and more commendable than Charity. And by Charity 
they say they mean not merely giving to the poor who 
have need of succour and assistance from the wealth and 
abundance of the rich, but likewise helping to assuage 
the flames of poor languishing lovers that one sees con- 
suming with the fire of an ardent passion. "For of a 
truth," they declare, "what can be more charitable than 
to restore life to one we see dying, and to quite refresh 
again the man thus consuming away?" So says that 
brave Paladin, the Seigneur de Montauban, upholding the 
fair Genevra in Ariosto, who doth maintain that of rights 
the woman should die, which robs her lover of life, and 
not she who gives it him. 

This did he say of a maid, and if it be true of a maid, 
then much more are suchlike deeds of Charity commend- 
able in wives even more than in maids, seeing these have 
not their purses untied and open yet like married women, 
the which, or at any rate some among them, have these 
same exceeding ample and well adapted to enlarge their 
charities ! 

Which doth remind me of a tale of a very fair lady 
of the Court, who did attire herself for a Candlemas-tide 
all in a dress of white damask, with all else white to match, 
so that naught that day did look fairer or more white. 
Then did the lady's lover win over one of her companions, 
which likewise was a very fair lady, but somewhat older 
and better skilled in speech, and well fitted to intercede 
for him. So, whenas they all three were looking at a very 
fine picture, wherein was depicted Charity clad all in white 
with a white veil, this last did say to her friend: "You 
do wear this day the same dress as Charity here; but 
seeing you do resemble her in attire, you should be like 




her too as concerneth your lover, there being no other 
thing more commendable than good pity and sweet char- 
ity, in whatsoever way it be showed forth, provided always 
it be with good will to help one's neighbour. Therefore 
be charitable; but if you have the fear of your husband 
and the sanctity of wedlock before your eyes, why! 'tis 
a vain superstition we women should never entertain, see- 
ing how nature hath given us good things in divers sorts, 
not to use the same niggardly, like some vile miserly hag 
with her treasure hoard, but rather to distribute them 
generously to poor suffering mortals and men in dire 
straits. True it is our chastity doth resemble a treasure, 
which it behooves us be niggard of on base occasions ; but 
for high and noble ones, we should dispense thereof lib- 
erally and without stint. In like wise ought we to deal 
with our chastity, the which we must yield up generously 
to folk of merit and desert, and ill-fortune to boot, but 
refuse to such as be vile, worthless, and such as do not 
stand in need. As for our husbands, truly these be fine 
idols, for us never to pay our vows and candles to any 
but them only, and never to visit other handsome images ! 
For 'tis to God alone we do owe absolute and unbroken 
allegiance, and to no man." 

Now this discourse was in no wise displeasing to the 
lady, and did much advantage the lover, who by help of 
a little perseverance, did presently reap the benefit 
thereof. Yet are Charity sermons of the sort right dan- 
gerous for the unhappy husbands. I have heard tell (I 
know not whether it be true, so I will not say for certain 
it is so), how at the beginning when the Huguenots did 
first establish their religion, and they would be holding 
their preachings at night and in secret places, for fear 




of being surprised, sought out and punished, whenas one 
day they were thus in the Rue St. Jacques at Paris, in 
the days of King Henri II., certain great ladies resorting 
thither to receive this Charity, were all but caught in the 
act. After the Minister had done his sermon, at the 
end thereof he did recommend them to be charitable; 
whereupon without more ado they did extinguish the 
lights, and on the spot each man and woman did exercise 
the same towards his or her brother or sister in Christ, 
dispensing it one to the other according to the good will 
and ability of each. But this I dare not assert right out, 
though I have been assured 'tis a true thing. Yet on 
the contrary 'tis very possible the whole is a mere lie 
and imposture. 

At any rate I know this much well, how at Poitiers 
there dwelt at that time a certain advocate's wife, known 
by the name of the fair Gotterelle, whom myself have 
seen, which was one of the most beautiful women of her 
day, of the most charming grace and shape, and one of 
the most desirable dames in all the town at that time. 
Wherefore was every man fain to be making eyes at the 
same, and laying of his heart at her feet. She was one 
day at the end of sermon time handled by a round dozen 
of student lads, one after the other, whether in the Con- 
sistory or under some pent-house, or as I have heard some 
say, under a gallows in the Old Market, at any rate 
without her having made one single outcry or refusal. 
Rather, asking only the text of the sermon for password, 
she did welcome them one after other right courteously, 
as her true brothers in Christ. This gentle alms-giving 
she did long continue afterward towards them, yet would 
she never bestow one farthing's worth on any Papist. 




Yet were there sundry of that faith which, borrowing of 
the Huguenot comrades the word and the jargon of their 
meeting-house, did enjoy her favours. Others again 
would resort to the sermonizing expressly for this cause, 
and pretend to be converted, to learn the secret and so 
have pleasure of this beauteous dame. I was then at 
Poitiers as a student lad, and several good comrades of 
mine, who had their share of her favour, did assure me 
of the fact, and swear to it; moreover the general bruit 
in the place did confirm the same. Verily a delectable 
and charitable deed to do, and a right conscientious lady 
thus to make choice and preference of her fellow re- 
ligionists ! 

Yet another form of Charity is there, which is oft times 
practised towards poor prisoners who are shut up in 
dungeons and robbed of all enjoyments with women. On 
such do the gaolers' wives and women that have charge 
over them, or chatelaines who have prisoners of war in 
their Castle, take pity and give them share of their love 
out of very charity and mercifulness. Thus did a certain 
Roman courtesan say once to her daughter, of whom a 
gallant was deeply enamoured, but she would never be- 
stow on him so much as a farthing's worth: E dagli, al 
manco por misericordia, "Well, well ! do him charity then 
for pity's sake." 

Thus do these gaolers' wives, noble chatelaines and 
others, treat their prisoners, the which, captive and un- 
happy though they be, yet cease not for that to feel the 
prickings of the flesh, as much as ever they did in their 
best days. As saith the old proverb, "Longing cometh 
of lacking," so even in the straw and on the hard ground, 




my lord Priapus will still be lifting his head, as well as 
on the best and softest bed in all the world. 

Hence it cometh that beggars and prisoners, in their 
lazar-houses and prisons, are just as wanton as Kings, 
Princes and great folk in their rich Palaces and on their 
royal and dainty couches. 

To confirm what I say, I will instance a tale that Cap- 
tain Beaulieu, Captain of the King's Galleys, of whom I 
have before spoke once and again, did tell me. He was 
in the service of the late Grand Prior of France, a mem- 
ber of the house of Lorraine, who was much attached 
to him. Going one time to take his patron on board at 
Malta in a frigate, he was taken by the Sicilian galleys, 
and carried prisoner to the Castel-a-mare at Palermo, 
where he was shut up in an exceeding narrow, dark and 
wretched dungeon, and very ill entreated by the space of 
three months. By good hap the Governor of the Castle, 
who was a Spaniard, had two very fair daughters, who 
hearing him complaining and making moan, did one day 
ask leave of their father to visit him, for the honour of 
the good God; and this he did freely give them permis- 
sion to do. And seeing the Captain was of a surety a 
right gallant gentleman, and as ready-tongued as most, 
he was able so to win them over at this, the very first 
visit, that they did gain their father's leave for him to 
quit his wretched dungeon and to be put in a seemly 
enough chamber and receive better treatment. Nor was 
this all, for they did crave and get permission to come 
and see him freely every day and converse with him. 

And this did fall out so well that presently both the 
twain of them were in love with him, albeit he was not 




handsome to look upon, and they very fair ladies. And 
so, without a thought of the chance of more rigorous 
imprisonment or even death, but rather tempted by such 
opportunities, he did set himself to the enjoyment of the 
two girls with good will and hearty appetite. And these 
pleasures did continue without any scandal, for so fortu- 
nate was he in this conquest of his for the space of eight 
whole months, that no scandal did ever hap all that time, 
and no ill, inconvenience, nor any surprise or discovery 
at all. For indeed the two sisters had so good an under- 
standing between them and did so generously lend a hand 
to each other and so obligingly play sentinel to one an- 
other, that no ill hap did ever occur. And he sware to 
me, being my very intimate friend as he was, that never 
in his days of greatest liberty had he enjoyed so excellent 
entertainment or felt keener ardour or better appetite 
for it than in the said prison, which truly was a right 
good prison for him, albeit folk say no prison can be 
good. And this happy time did continue for the space 
of eight months, till the truce was made betwixt the 
Emperor and Henri II., King of France, whereby all pris- 
oners did leave their dungeons and were released. He 
sware that never was he more grieved than at quitting 
this good prison of his, but was exceeding sorry to leave 
these fair maids, with whom he was in such high favour, 
and who did express all possible regrets at his departing. 
I did ask him if ever he apprehended ill consequences, 
if he were discovered. To which he made reply, he most 
certainly did, yet was not afeared thereof. For at the 
worst they would but have put him to death, and he had 
rather have died than go back to his first dungeon. 
Moreover he was afraid, if he had failed to gratify these 



honourable maids, seeing they sought to him so eagerly, 
that they would have conceived so sore a despite and dis- 
dain against him, that he would have gotten some worse 
treatment even than afore. Wherefore, close shutting his 
eyes to all consequences, he did adventure boldly on this 
merry emprise. 

Many another adventure of the sort is related in our 
land of France, as of the Due d'Arschot, who when a 
prisoner in the Bois de Vincennes, did escape by the help 
of an honourable lady; the which lady however was like 
to have suffered sore for it, seeing 'twas a matter of the 
King's service. And indeed suchlike deeds of charity 
are blameworthy, if they do touch the general weal, 
though very good and commendable, when only the indi- 
vidual is concerned, and the lover's life and his mistress's 
only endangered. In this there is scant hurt. 

I could instance many fine examples pertinent to this 
matter, if I were desirous of writing a separate discourse 
thereon, and insooth 'twould be by no means an un- 
amusing subject. However I will but quote the following 
one, and no other beside, for the sake of telling a pleas- 
ant and classic tale. 

We read in Livy how, after the Romans had utterly 
destroyed the town of Capua, certain inhabitants of that 
city did come to Rome to represent their unhappj 7 state 
to the Senate, and beseech the Fathers to have pity on 
them. The matter was debated and amongst others 
which did pronounce an opinion was M. Atilius Regulus, 
who did maintain they should show no mercy whatever. 
"For he could in no wise discover," he declared, "any sin- 
gle Capuan, since the revolting of their city, who could 
be said to have displayed the least atom of friendliness 




or affection for the Roman State, except only two honour- 
able women," the one Vestia Oppia, an Atellane, from 
the city of Atella, domiciled at Capua at the time, and the 
other, one Faucula Cluvia, both of whom had been afore- 
time ladies of pleasure and courtesans, plying their trade 
publicly in that city. The one had let never a day pass 
without offering up prayers and sacrifices for the success 
and victory of the Roman People, while the other had 
deserved well for having by stealth succoured with victuals 
the poor prisoners of war, dying of hunger and misery. 
Verily good and pious deeds of Charity these! But 
hereanent, a noble gentleman, an honourable lady and 
myself reading of this passage of Livy together one day, 
we did suddenly exclaim one to the other, how seeing 
these two honourable dames had gone thus far and had 
performed such good and pious offices, that doubtless they 
had gone on to yet others, and had bestowed on the poor 
prisoners the charity of their fair bodies. For indeed in 
former days they had distributed these same alms to other 
folk, being then courtesans, or mayhap being so still. 
Still the book doth not say so, but leaveth this point in 
doubt; yet may we guess how 'twas. But even granting 
they had of yore plied this trade, but had now left it off 
for some space, yet might they very well have taken it up 
again, nothing being more easy and facile to do. Then 
likely enough they did recognise and once again receive 
some of the good lovers of their former acquaintance, and 
were now ready to return once more somewhat on their 
old courses. Or again 'tis quite likely that among the 
prisoners, they may have seen some, hitherto unknown and 
which they had never set eyes on but this once, and found 
the same handsome, brave, valiant and well-liking gal- 



lants, that did well deserve all their charity, and so could 
they do no otherwise than grant them full enjoyment of 
their good favours. 

Thus, in whatsoever way it came about, did these hon- 
ourable ladies well earn the courtesy which the Roman 
Commonwealth showed them, making them to recover all 
their goods, and assuring them the peaceable enjoyment 
of the same for all time. Nay! more, they did make 
known to them how they might ask what they would, and 
they should have their request. And to speak candidly, 
if Titus Livy had not been so reticent and unduly con- 
strained by shamefacedness and overmodesty, he might 
very well have spoke right out about these ladies, and 
said plainly they did not grudge the favour of their fair 
bodies. So would this passage of History have been yet 
more excellent and entertaining to peruse, had he not 
thus docked his narrative, and left sticking at his pen- 
point the best part of the tale. Such was the discourse 
we three did hold thereon at the time. 


JJING JOHN of France, 1 when a prisoner in 
England, did in like-wise receive many marks 
of favour from the Countess of Salisbury, 
and such pleasant ones that, not being able 
to forget the same and the titbits she bestowed on him, 
he did return once more to see her again, as she had made 
him swear and promise he would do. 

Other ladies there be which are complaisant herein up 
to a certain point of conscience and charity. Of this 
sort was one which would never suffer her lover, sleep 





with her as oft as he might, to kiss her the least in the 
world on the lips, giving as her reason that 'twas her 
mouth had made the oath of faith and fealty to her 
husband, and she would fain not foul the same by way 
of the very mouth that hade made and taken it. But as 
for that of the body, the which had said never a word and 
promised naught, this she did let him do with at his good 
pleasure, and made no scruple to yield to her lover, seeing 
it is not in the competence of the upper part to pledge 
itself for the lower, any more than for the lower for the 
upper. For that the custom of Law doth say that none 
can bind himself for another without the consent and 
word of either party, nor one only for the whole. 

Another most conscientious and scrupulous dame, when 
granting her friend enjoyment of her, would always take 
the upper station and bring her man under her, never 
abating one jot of this rule. For, by observing the same 
straitly and regularly, she would say, if her husband or 
any other did ask whether such an one had done to her, 
that she could deny even on oath, and assuredly protest, 
without sinning against God, that never had he done so 
with her. This oath she did so emphatically make as to 
quite satisfy her husband and others by dint of her con- 
fident swearing in answer to their questions. So did they 
credit her in what she alleged, "yet had never the wit," 
she would say, "to demand if ever she had taken the 
upper part herself; by the which question they would 
have brought much scorn on me," she said, "and sore 
trouble of mind." 

Methinks I have before now spoke of this point; yet 
cannot a man always remember everything. Moreover it 




doth better accord with the matter here in hand than with 
other, as it seemeth me. 

Commonly ladies of this sort are great liars, and speak 
never a word of truth. For so trained are they and 
broken in to lying, and truly if they do otherwise, they 
are fools, and come but to ill, to their husbands and 
lovers anent these matters and these changes of love, and 
so used to swearing they never give themselves to any 
but them only, that when they come to deal with other 
matters of consequence, of business or argument, they 
never do aught but lie, and no man can believe a thing 
they say. 

Other women again I have both known and heard 
speak of, which would never grant their favours to their 
lovers but when they were with child, to the end they 
might not conceive. Wherein they did make great scruple 
so as not to falsely give their husbands a fruit that was 
not really theirs, and nourish, feed and bring up the 
same as their own. I have already spoke on this subject. 
However, being once pregnant, they would deem they 
were doing the husband no wrong nor making him cuckold 
by prostituting themselves. 

Very like, some were used to do thus for the same 
reasons as moved Julia, the Emperor Augustus' daughter 
and wife of Agrippa, who in her time was a notorious 
harlot, whereat was her father more sore angered than 
her husband. Once being asked if that she were not 
afeared of being made pregnant by her lovers, and her 
husband noting it and being very wroth with her, she 
made answer: "Nay! I take good heed in this, for I do 
receive no man and take never a passenger in my ship, 
but when it is laden and carrying full cargo." 





Now here we have yet another sort of cuckolds ; and 
these same are true martyrs, they which have wives as 
ugly as devils in hell, who nevertheless are fain to take 
their share in tasting the sweets of love just as much 
as their fairer sisters, though these last properly do 
deserve this privilege alone according to the proverb: 
"Handsome men to the gallows, fair dames to the 
brothel." 2 Yet do these ugly coal-wenches play the gay 
woman like the rest. And they must needs be forgiven; 
for are they not women too, and with a like nature and 
complexion, only not so fair seeming. I have seen very 
plain women, at any rate in their youth, which did rate 
themselves just as highly as fairer dames, deeming that 
a woman is valued at just the worth she doth put upon 
herself and will sell herself for. Even as at a good 
market all sorts of wares are sold and pledged, some at a 
high, some at a lower rate, according to the amount of 
business a-doing, and the time at which one cometh to 
market after others, and according to the good or bad 
price one doth find ruling there. For, as folk say, a 
man goeth always to the best market, and albeit the stuff 
be not of the best, the price will depend on the skill of 
the market-man and market-woman. 

So is it with plain women, of whom I have seen some 
that, by my troth, were as hot and lustful and as well 
inclined for love as the fairest, and would put themselves 
on the market and be as fain as any to get a good price 
and full value. 

But the worst thing I find in them is this, that whereas 
the dealers make offers to the fairest, these others do 
make offers to the dealers and beg them to take and 
accept of their goods, the which they are ready to give 





them for nothing or at a very low price. Nay! they 
go further still; for most often they do give them money 
to taste of their lecherousness and be debauched of them. 
Now look at the pity of it! for in payment of such de- 
bauching no little sum of money is needed, so much so 
that it doth cost more than the person is worth. And 
yet is the poor husband no less degraded and made cuck- 
old by a plain wife, whose fare is much harder to digest 
than a beautiful woman's. To say nothing of a man's 
having to lie by his side a devil of hell, in place of a 
beauteous angel. 

Wherefore I have heard many gallant men say they 
had rather have a beautiful woman, and one something 
whorish, than a plain woman, though the most chaste in 
all the world. For in a foul dame is to be found naught 
but wretchedness and displeasure ; in a fair one is abund- 
ance of all pleasure and good happiness, as some folk 
maintain. For myself I refer me to such as have trod 
this roadway and path. 

I have heard some men say sometimes, that for hus- 
bands it is no such grand thing for them to have their 
wives chaste. For then are these so boastful of the fact, 
I mean those women that do possess this most uncommon 
gift, that you might almost declare them fain to dom- 
inate not alone their husbands, but the very world itself 
and the stars of heaven ! Nay ! they seem to think, judg- 
ing from their pride of chastity, that God doth owe them 
some special return therefor. Yet are they greatly de- 
ceived; for I have heard learned Doctors say, how that 
God doth more love a poor sinful woman, repentant and 
contrite, as in the case of the Magdalene, than a prideful 
and haughty dame, which doth suppose she hath surely 




won Paradise, without any need for the pity and merciful 
judgment of God. 

I have heard tell of a lady so boastful by reason of her 
chastity that she did come so to look down upon her 
husband, that when asked if she had lain with him, "No !" 
she would reply, "but he hath lain with me." So proud a 
dame was she! I leave you to imagine how these same 
silly, boastful, virtuous wives do chide their poor hus- 
bands, even though they may have naught really to re- 
proach them with. So in especial do such wives as are 
chaste and rich likewise. A wife that is at once virtuous 
and wealthy in her own right, will ever be playing the 
disdainful, haughty, proud and bold lady towards her 
husband, so that by reason of the over high value she 
doth set on her chastity and her well guarded front, she 
cannot refrain her from putting on the airs of an empress 
and chiding her husband on his committing the smallest 
fault, as I have seen sundry do, and above all on his 
ill way of life. If he gamble, or be wasteful or extrava- 
gant, mightily doth she protest and storm, making her 
home to seem rather a hell upon earth than an honour- 
able household. Then if he need to sell aught of his 
property to meet the cost of a journey to Court or to the 
wars, or of his lawsuits, necessities or minor follies and 
frivolous expenses, never a word must he speak thereof. 
For such an empire hath the wife assumed over him, 
resting it on the strong foundation of her virtue, that 
her husband must needs refer all to her judgment, as 
Juvenal well says in one of his Satires: 

"... Animus uxoris si deditus uni, 
Nil unquam in vita donabis conjuge; vendes, 
Hac obstante, nihil haec, si nolit, emetur." 3 


These lines of the poet show plainly that the ancient 
Roman dames were in this matter of an humour much 
akin to that of many ladies of our own day. On the 
contrary, when a wife is something whorish, she will show 
herself far more acommodating, more yielding, docile and 
timid, of a much gentler and more agreeable disposition, 
more humble and ready to do aught her husband may 
desire, and more complaisant to him in all things. So 
have I seen some such which durst never scold or cry 
out, nor show themselves cross-gained, for fear the hus- 
band should confront them with their fault and throw 
their adultery in their face, and make them to feel the 
consequences thereof at the cost of their life itself. Then 
if the gallant fellow is fain to sell some property of theirs, 
lo! their names are writ to the contract before ever the 
husband have time to say the word. Many of this sort 
have I seen. In one word they do what their husbands 

Well ! are these then so sorely hurt to be made cuckold 
of such fair dames, and to win of them such fine goods 
and advantages as these, to say naught of the fine, 
delightsome pleasure they do enjoy in wantoning with 
suchlike beauteous women, and swimming, so to speak, 
with them in a beautiful, clear stream instead of a foul 
and repulsive slough? And since a man must die, as a 
certain great Captain I know used to say, is it not far 
better for it to be by a fine fresh sword, bright, clear, 
shining and keen-edged, than by an old blade, all rusted 
and ill burnished, one calling for more emery than all 
the sword-cutlers of Paris together could furnish? 

And what I say of young women that are plain, I say 
the like of some old women, the which are fain to be 




debauched and be kept clean and bright by use, just as 
much as the fairest in all the world. Elsewhere do I 
give a special Discourse to this subject (the Fifth Dis- 
course, following). And this is the worst of it: when 
their husbands cannot fulfil the duty, then the rogues 
will be calling in substitutes, being every bit as passionate 
as 3 r ounger women, or even more so. So have I seen some 
that neither at the beginning nor the middle of life are 
ready to be excited, but only at the end. And rightly 
do men say that in these matters the end is more fierce 
than the two other ages, the beginning and the middle, 
so far as wishing goes. For very often strength and 
competence are then lacking, a thing that doth vex them 
sore, as saith the old proverb: 'Tis great grief and 
pain, when a backside hath right good will, but power is 

So are there always some of these poor old wretches, 
which do admit their lovers gratis, like a muleteer on his 
beast, and do distribute their largess at the expense of 
their two purses ; but 'tis the money purse only makes 
these find the other, the body's purse, good and narrow. 
Thus we say that liberality is more to be esteemed in all 
matters than avarice and niggardliness, except only with 
women, who, the more liberal they are, the less are they 
esteemed, but the avaricious and niggard all the more for 
being so. 

This was what a great Lord did say one time of two 
great ladies, sisters, whom I know of, whereof the one 
was niggard of her honour, but liberal of her purse and 
expenditure, the other exceeding chary of her purse and 
money, but very liberal of her person. 

Next there is yet another sort of cuckolds, one that of 



a surety is utterly abominable and hateful before God 
and man alike, they who, enamoured of some handsome 
Adonis, do abandon their wives to men of this kind in 
order to enjoy their favour in return. 

The first time ever I was in Italy, I did hear of an 
example of this at Ferrara, the tale being told me of 
one who, captivated by a certain handsome youth, did 
persuade his wife to accord her favours to the said young 
man, who was in love with her, and to appoint a day and 
consent to do all he should bid her. The lady was willing 
enough, for truly she did desire no better venison to 
regale herself withal than this. At length was the day 
fixed, and the hour being come when the young lover and 
the lady were at their pleasant game and entertainment, 
lo! the husband, who was hid near at hand, according 
to the compact betwixt him and his wife, did rush in. 
So catching them in the very act, he did put his dagger 
to the lover's throat, deeming him worthy of death for 
such offence, in accordance with the laws of Italy, which 
herein be something more rigorous than in France. So 
was he constrained to grant the husband what he did 
desire, and they made exchange one with the other. The 
young man did prostitute himself and the husband did 
abandon his wife to the young man. Thus was the hus- 
band cuckold after an exceeding foul fashion. 

I have heard tell of a lady, which being desperately 
in love with an honourable gentleman whom she had taken 
for lover and chief favourite, and this latter fearing the 
husband would do him or her some ill turn, did comfort 
him, saying, "Nay ! have no fear, for he would in no 
wise dare do aught, for dread I should accuse him of 
having wished to practice the backdoor Venus, which 




might well bring about his death, if I were to breathe the 
least word thereof and denounce him to justice. But in 
this way I do hold him in check and in terror, so that 
for fear of my accusation, he dares not say one word 
to me." 

Without a doubt such accusation would have involved 
the poor husband in naught less than peril of his life; 
for the legists declare that this act is punishable for the 
mere wish to commit the same. But mayhap the lady 
did never mean to let out the word altogether, and would 
not have gone so far as this without reconsidering her 

I have been told how in one of these latter years a 
young French gentleman, a handsome gallant that had 
been seen many a day at Court, being gone to Rome 
for instruction in manly exercises, like others his con- 
temporaries, was in that city regarded with so favourable 
an eye, and did meet with such great admiration of his 
beauty, as well of men as of women, that folk were ready 
almost to force him to their will. And so whenever they 
were aware of his going to Mass or other place of public 
assemblage, they would never fail, either men or women, 
to be there likewise for to see him. Nay, more, several 
husbands did suffer their wives to give him love assigna- 
tions in their houses, to the end that being come thither 
and then surprised, they might effect an exchange, the 
one of his wife, the other of him. For which cause he was 
advised never to yield to the love and wishes of these 
ladies, seeing the whole matter had been contrived and 
arranged merely to entrap him. And herein he did show 
himself wise and did set his honour and good conscience 
above all such detestable pleasures, winning thereby a 




high and worthy repute. Yet at the last his squire did 
kill him. Divers reasons are given therefor. At any rate 
'twas a sore pity, for that he was a very honourable 
young man, of good station, and one that did promise 
well of his nature as well by reason of his noble actions as 
of the fine and noble character he did manifest herein. 
For indeed, as I have heard a very gallant man of my 
time say, and as is most true, never yet was bougre or 
catamite a brave, valiant and generous man but only the 
great Julius Caesar, seeing that by divine permission and 
ordinance all such abominable folk are brought low and 
reduced to shame. And this doth make me wonder how 
sundry, whom I have seen stained by this horrid vice, 
have yet prospered under heaven in high good fortune; 
yet doth God wait for them, and at the last we shall 
surely see them meet their proper fate. 

How many women there be in the world, which if they 
were examined by midwives and doctors and expert sur- 
geons, would be found no more virgin one way than an- 
other, and which could at any moment bring action 
against their husbands. Yet do they dissimulate it and 
dare not discover the matter, for fear of bringing scandal 
on themselves and their husbands, or perhaps because 
they do find therein some greater pleasure than we can 
suppose. Or it may be for the purpose I have above 
named, to keep their husbands in such subjection, if 
they do make love in other quarters, which indeed some 
husbands do on these terms allow them to do. Yet are 
none of these reasons really sufficient to account for the 

The Summa Benedicti saith: If the husband chooseth 
thus to take his part contrary to the order of nature, 




he commits a mortal sin; and if he maintain that he may 
dispose of his own wife as he please, he doth fall into a 
detestable and foul heresy of sundry Jews and evil Rabbis, 
which are cited as saying thus, dudbus mulieribus apud 
synagogam conquestis se fuisse a viris sms cognitu so- 
domitico cognitas, responsum est ab Hits Rabinis: virum 
esse u&oris dominum, proinde posse uti ejus utcumque 
libuerit, non aliter quam qui piscem emit: ille enim, tarn 
anterioribus quam posterioribus partibus, ad arbitrium 
vesci posse. 

This have I quoted only in Latin, forasmuch as it 
soundeth ill to honourable and modest ears. Abominable 
wretches that they be, thus to desert a fair, pure and 
lawful habit, to adopt instead one that is foul, dirty, 
filthy and forbid, and disgraceful to boot. 

But if the man will take the woman so, it is lawful for 
her to separate from him, if there is no other means to 
cure him. And yet, it is stated again, such women as 
fear God ought never to consent thereto, but rather 
cry out for help, regardless of the scandal which might 
so arise, and of dishonour and the fear of death; for 'tis 
better, saith the law, to die than to consent to evil. The 
same book doth say another thing which I deem very 
strange: that whatsoever way a husband know his wife, 
provided she may conceive thereby, herein is no mortal 
sin, but only a venial one. Nor do these same smack at 
all of marital purity, albeit, as I have before said, it may 
be permissible in case of pregnant women, as well as such 
as have a strong and unpleasant breath, whether from the 
mouth or nose. Thus have I known and heard speak of 
several women to kiss whom and scent their breath was as 
bad as smelling at a sewer; or to put it another way, I 





have heard it said of a certain great lady, a very great 
one indeed I mean, that once one of her ladies declared her 
breath stank more than a backhouse. These are the very 
words she used. 

I would say more of this, but in truth I have a horror 
of speaking thereof at all. It hath vexed me to have said 
so much as I have ; but 'tis needful sometimes to lay open 
public vices in order to reform the same. 


JEXT it behoveth me to mention an ill opinion 
which many have held and do still hold con- 
cerning the Court of our French Kings. Men 
say the ladies thereof, both maids and wives, 
do oft times trip, indeed do so customarily. But in this 
are they very much deceived, for truly there be amongst 
these very chaste, honourable and virtuous women, nay! 
even more than elsewhere. Virtue doth reside there just 
as much, or more than in other places, a fact we should 
duly prize, for that it can readily be put to proof. 

Je n'alleguerai que ce seul exemple de Mme. la grande- 
duchesse de Florence d'aujourd'hui, de la maison de Lor- 
raine, laquelle etant arrivee a Florence le soir que le 
grand -due 1'epousa, et qu'il voulut aller coucher avec elle 
pour la depuceler, il la fit avant pisser dans un bel urinoir 
de cristal, le plus beau et le plus clair qu'il put, et en 
ayant vu 1'urine, il la consulta avec son medecin, qui 
etait un tres grand et tres savant et expert personnage, 
pour savoir de lui, par cette inspection, si elle etait 
pucelle oui ou non. Le medecin 1'ayant bien fixement et 
doctement inspectee, il trouva qu'elle etait telle comme 




quand sortit du ventre de sa mere, et qu'il y allat hardi- 
ment, et qu'il n'y trouverait point le chemin nullement 
ouvert, fraye ni battu; ce qu'il fit, et en trouva la verite 
telle et puis. 

Then next morning, in amaze, he did exclaim thus: 
"Lo and behold, a miracle, that the girl should thus 
have come forth a virgin from yonder Court of France!" 
Truly a curious investigation, and a strange opinion! 
I know not if the tale be true, but it hath been confidently 
affirmed to me as being so. 

A fine repute for our Court. But indeed 'tis no long 
while since men generally held that all the ladies of the 
Court and of Paris city were not so virtuous of their 
body as they of the open countryside, and such as never 
left their homes. There have been men known so scrupu- 
lous they would never wed with girls or women which had 
travelled far afield, and seen the world, be it ever so little. 
Thus in our native Guyenne, in the days of my youth, I 
have heard not a few gallant gentlemen say this and seen 
them swear to the same, that they would never wed girl 
or woman which should ever have gone forth of the Port 
de Pille, to journey away toward France. Poor silly 
creatures surely herein, albeit wise and gallant men 
enough in other matters, to suppose that cuckoldry did 
never abide in their own houses, at their hearths and in 
their closets and bedchambers, just as readily, or may- 
hap more so, seeing the easy opportunities, as in the 
Royal Palaces and the great Royal towns ! For could 
not lovers well enough come thither to suborn, win over, 
court and undo their wives for them, when they were 
themselves away at Court, at the wars, or the chase, 
attending their law business or on their journeyings 



abroad? This they would never understand, but were so 
simple as to think men would never dare to say one word 
of love to their ladies, but speak only of their households, 
gardens, hunting and hawking parties. And so by such 
blindness and rash confidence they did get themselves 
cuckolded even more freely than elsewhere ; for there is no 
spot where a fair and clever woman, and an honourable 
and gallant man, cannot find room and convenience for 
love-making. Poor fools and idiots that they were ! could 
they not realize how that Venus hath no fixed and special 
place of abode, as of old in Cyprus, at Paphos and 
Amathos, and see that she doth dwell everywhere, yea ! 
even in the very herdsmen's cots and the lowly lap of 
shepherdesses the most simple seeming? 

Since some while now have they begun to abandon 
these silly prejudices. For, having observed that in all 
parts was risk of this same unhappy cuckoldry, they 
have of late taken wives wherever they have pleased or 
been able. Nay! they have gone yet further; for they 
have sent them or taken them with them to Court, to let 
their beauty be manifest and have full appreciation, and 
so strike envy to the heart of all and sundry, as if for 
the very end of getting themselves a set of horns ! 

Others again do nowadays send their wives, or take 
the same along with them, to plead and influence by their 
solicitations their suits at law; whereof some really and 
truly have no law business at all, but do make pretense 
they have. Or else, if they really have some case toward, 
they will wilfully prolong the same, the better to prolong 
their amours. Nay! sometimes husbands will actually 
leave their wives on duty at the Courts, in the galleries 
and great Hall thereof, and so away to their own homes, 





deeming these will better do their business for them, and 
they will win their cause better so. And in truth I do 
know of several which have so won them, more by the 
dexterity and delights of their wives' fore parts than by 
any claim of justice on their side. And so many a time 
will the wives be gotten with child at this game, and then 
to avoid scandal, drugs having failed of their efficacy 
to preserve them therefrom, will speedily hie away home 
to their husbands, feigning they are going thither to look 
up titles or documents of the which they stand in need, 
or to institute some enquiry, or else that 'tis to await 
Martinmas and the re-opening of the Courts, and that 
being unable in vacation time to make any progress 
in their suit, they are fain to have a bout of the male and 
see their households again and husbands. And so they 
do in sooth, but they were well in child, ere ever they 
began ! 

I appeal to many a learned judge and presiding mag- 
istrate as to the fine tit-bits these same have enjoyed 
from time to time of country gentlemen's wives. 

'Tis no long while since a very fair, great and honour- 
able lady, which myself have known, going in this wise 
to forward her case at the Paris Courts, one seeing it 
did say, "Why! what doth she think to do? She will 
surely lose, for she hath no great claim of right and 
justice." But, tell me, doth not her right and justice 
lie in the beauty of her fore part, even as Caesar did bear 
his on the pommel and point of his sword ? 

Thus are country gentlemen cuckolded by the men of 
the Law, in revenge for the cuckoldries they themselves 
commit on judges' and magistrates' good ladies. And in- 
deed some of these last I have seen who have been a fair 





match, when all charms were displayed, for many wives 
and daughters of Lords, Knights and high-born gentle- 
men of the Court and other such. 

I knew once a great lady, which had been very fair, 
but years had worn out her beauty. Having a law case 
at Paris, and seeing her beauty was no more meet to 
help her to forward and win her process, she did take 
with her a certain neighbour of hers, a young and pretty 
woman. And to this end she did supply her with a good 
sum of money, as much as ten thousand crowns; and so 
what she could not herself do, willing as she would have 
been, in this she did find her advantage, and the young 
lady to boot, and both the twain were well pleased. 

'Tis no long while since I saw a mother take thither one 
of her daughters, albeit she was a married woman, to help 
her forward her case, having no other business there at 
all. And truly she is a very fair lady, and well worth a 
man's while to listen to. 

However 'tis high time I should make an end in this my 
grand discourse concerning cuckoldry. For at the last 
would my long periods, tossed to and fro in these deep 
waters and mighty torrents, be clean drowned; and I 
should never have done, or have wit enough to get me 
out of the thing, no more than out of that Labyrinth 
of yore, though I should have the longest and strongest 
thread was ever in this world for guide and safe conduct. 

Finally I will conclude by saying this, that if we are 
the cause of many ills, and do give torments, martyrdoms 
and evil times to the poor cuckolds, still we do verily pay 
for the same through the nose, as the saying is, and are 
mulcted in a triple interest. For verily the more part 
of them that do them wrong and make unlawful love, the 





more part of the same gallants, do endure quite as great 
ills as they inflict, seeing all the jealousies they are liable 
to, not less from their rivals in the pursuit than from the 
husbands themselves. Then consider the anxieties and 
caprices they have to put up with, the risks they run of 
danger and death, of maiming and wounds, of affronts, 
insults, quarrels, terrors, pains and penalties of every 
kind. Think how they must needs endure cold and wet, 
wind and heat. I say naught here of pox and chancres, 
all the plagues and diseases they incur at this game, as 
much with high-born dames as with those of low degree. 
Thus it is that many and many a time they buy right 
dear what is granted them, and the game is truly not 
worth the candle. 

Yea ! many such have we seen perish miserably, at the 
very time they were set forth on their way to conquer a 
whole kingdom. Witness M. de Bussi, the paragon of his 
day, and many another. 

Of such I could cite an host more ; but I will leave them 
unnamed, to the end I may have done, only admonishing 
lovers and advising them to practise the Italian proverb 
which saith, Che molto guadagna chi putana perde! (He 
who loseth an harlot, gaineth much). 

Ame, Count of Savoy, was often used to say: 

En jeu d'armes et d'amours 
Pour une joye cent doulours. 
("In the sport of arms and of love, 
for one joy an hundred dolours.") 

using this quaint old word, the better to make out his 
rhyme. Another saying of his was, that love and anger 
had this point of great unlikeness one with the other, 




that whereas anger doth pass away soon and very readily 
from the person affected, love doth so only with the ex- 
treme of difficulty. 

And this is why we should guard well against love of 
this sort for that it doth cost us quite as much as it is 
worth, and doth often lead to great ill fortunes. And 
to speak the real truth, the more part of patient and 
contented cuckolds have an hundred fold better time, if 
only they have the wit to recognise their position and 
come to an agreement with their wives, than have the 
active agents. Yea \ and many an one have I seen, though 
his horns were in question, would make mock at us and 
laugh at all the humours and pretty speeches of us gal- 
lants in converse of love with the wife. The same again 
when we had perchance to do with wily dames, who do 
make an understanding with their husbands and so sell 
us. So I knew once a very brave and honourable gentle- 
man, who had long loved a certain fair and honourable 
lady and had had of her the enjoyment he had been fain 
of for so long. But one day having observed that the 
husband and she were making merry at some peculiarity 
of his, he did take the thing in such dudgeon that he did 
leave her, and for good; for taking a long journey for to 
divert his thoughts, he did never speak to the lady again, 
so he told me. And truly suchlike wily, cunning and 
fickle dames must be guarded against, as they were savage 
beasts; for to content and appease their husbands, they 
will quit their old lovers, and thereafter again take other 
ones, being in no wise able to do without them altogether. 

So too I have known a very honourable and great lady, 
which yet had this ill fortune with her, that of five or six 
lovers I have seen her have in my day, all died one after 





the other, not without sore grief on her part therefor. 
Wherefore did men say of her how that she was Sej amis' 
horse, seeing all they which did mount her did die, and 
scarce ever survived. Yet had she this good in her and 
this merit, that whosoever it may have been, she was 
never known to change or abandon any of her good 
friends and lovers while yet living, for to take others 
instead. Only when they did come to die, she was ever 
eager to have a new mount, to the end she might not 
go a-foot. Moreover, as the lawyers themselves main- 
tain, 'tis allowed to adopt any protector one may choose 
for one's estate and lands, whenas they are deprived of 
their first master. Such constancy in this fair lady was 
much to be commended ; but albeit she was so far firm in 
her good faith, yet have there ever been an host of other 
dames that have been far from so constant. 

Besides, to speak candidly, 'tis never advisable to grow 
old in one and the same spot, and no man of spirit ever 
doth so. A man must be a bold adventurer and ever be 
turning him this way and that, just as much in love as 
in war and in other matters. For verily if a sailor do 
trust to but one anchor in his ship, if he drag this, he is 
very likely to lose his vessel, especially if it be in an ex- 
posed place and in a storm, where squalls and tempestu- 
ous waves are more like to occur than in a calm and in 

And in what more dangerous and exposed waters could 
a man adventure himself and sail forth than in making 
love to one fair lady only? For though of herself she 
may not have been wily and cunning at the beginning, 
yet we men do soon make her so and sharpen her wits 
by the many strange tricks we play with her, whereby we 




do often hurt ourselves, by making her able to carry the 
war into our own country, having fashioned and trained 
her thereto. So is it better far, as a certain gallant 
gentleman was used to say, to wed some fair and honour- 
able dame, albeit with the risk of having a touch of the 
horns and suffering this misfortune of cuckoldry that is 
common to so many, rather than to endure so many 
hardships and perils in the making of other folks cuckold. 

However this is all contrary to the opinion expressed 
by M. du Gua, to whom one day I did make a proposition 
on the part of a certain great lady which had begged 
me so to do, to marry him. But he did make this answer 
only, that heretofore he had ever deemed me one of his 
best friends, but that now I did make him think himself 
deceived in this, by my holding such language to him, 
trying to hunt him into the very thing he most did hate, 
that is to get him to marry and be cuckolded, in lieu of 
his making other men so. He did further say he could 
always wed plenty of women every year, speaking of mar- 
riage as an hidden prostitution of a man's repute and 
liberty, ordained by a specious law. Moreover that the 
worst of it was, this, as myself also do see and have noted 
to be the case, that the more part, nay ! all, of them that 
have thus taken delight in making other folks cuckold, 
when themselves come to wed, infallibly do they fall into 
the married, I mean the cuckolded, state. Never yet have 
I known it fall out otherwise, according to the word, "As 
thou shalt do to others, so shall it be done unto you." 

Before making an end, I will say yet one word more, 
how that I have seen a dispute raised that is still un- 
decided, to wit, in which provinces and regions of our 
Christendom and Europe there be most cuckolds and 





harlots? Men declare that in Italy the ladies are exceed- 
ingly hot, and for that cause very whorish, as saith M. de 
Beze 1 in a Latin Epigram, to the effect that where the 
sun is hot and doth shine with most power, there doth 
it the most heat women, inditing a verse thus conceived ; 

Credible est ignes multiplicare suos. 
("Pis to believed he doth there multiply their fires.) 

Spain is in the like case, though it lie more to the West- 
ward ; yet doth the sun there warm fair ladies as well as 
ever it can in the East. 

Flemish, Swiss, German, English and Scotch women, 
albeit they dwell more to the Northward and inhabit cold 
regions, share no less in this same natural heat ; and indeed 
I have known them as hot as dames of any other land. 

The Greeks have good reason to be so, for that they 
are well to the Eastward. So in Italy men do pray for 
Greca in let to, or "a Greek bedfellow." And in sooth 
they do possess many attractive points and merits, as is 
but to be expected, seeing in times of old they were the 
delight of all the world, and have taught many a secret 
to the ladies of Italy and Spain, from ancient times even 
to the present day, so much so that these do well nigh 
surpass their teachers, whether ancient or modern. And 
verily was not the Queen and Empress of all harlots, 
which was Venus, a Greek? 

As for my fair countrywomen of France, in old days 
they were notoriously very coarse and unrefined, content- 
ing themselves with doing of it in a coarse, rude fashion. 
But, beginning some fifty years since, they have borrowed 
so much and learned from other nations so many gentle 
ways, pretty tricks, charms and attractions, fine clothes, 





wanton looks, or else themselves have so well studied to 
fashion themselves therein, that we are bound to say that 
they do now surpass all other women in every way. So, 
as I have heard even men of foreign nations admit, they 
are better worth a man's having than any others, not to 
mention that naughty words in French are more naughty, 
better sounding and more rousing, than in any other 

Over and above all this, that excellent liberty we have 
in France, a thing more to be esteemed than aught else, 
doth surely make our women more desirable and lovable, 
more easy of access and more amenable, than they of any 
other nation. Again adultery is not so constantly pun- 
ished as in other lands, by the good wisdom of our noble 
Councils and French law-makers, which seeing abuses to 
arise by reason of such harsh punishments, have some- 
thing checked the same, and corrected the rigorous laws 
of a former day, passed by men which herein did allow 
themselves full license of merry disport, but deprived 
women altogether of the same privilege. Thus was it not 
allowed to an innocent woman to accuse her husband of 
adultery, by any laws imperial or canon, as Cajetan doth 
assure us. But truly cunning men did make this rule for 
the reasons named in the following Italian verses : 

Perche, di quel che Natura concede 
Cel' vieti tu, dura legge d'honore. 
Ella a noi liberal large ne diede 
Com' agli altri animal legge d'amore. 
Ma Fhuomo fraudulento, e senza fede, 
Che fu legislator di quest' errore, 
Vendendo nostre f orze e buona schiena, 
Copri la sua debolezza con la pena. 



("Oh ! over harsh law of honour, why dost thou forbid the 
thing that Nature urges us to do? She grants us, as to all 
animals, the enjoyment of love abundantly and liberally. But 
the base deceiver, man, knowing only too well the vigour of 
our loins, has established this mistaken law, so to conceal the 
weakness of the sexes.") 

In a word, 'tis good to love in this land of France. I 
appeal to our authentic doctors in this science, and even 
to our courtesans, which will be more apt than I to elab- 
orate subtle details thereanent. And to tell the very 
truth: harlots are there in all lands, and cuckolds the 
same, as myself can surely testify, for that I have seen 
all the countries I have named, and others to boot. 
Chastity abideth not in one quarter of the earth more 
than another. 


lOW will I further ask this one question only, 
and never another, one which mayhap hath 
never yet been enquired into of any, or pos- 
sibly even thought of, to wit, whether two 
ladies that be in love one with the other, as hath been 
seen aforetime, and is often seen nowadays, sleeping to- 
gether in one bed, and doing what is called donna con 
donna, imitating in fact that learned poetess Sappho, 
of Lesbos, whether these can commit adultery, and be- 
tween them make their husbands cuckold. 

Of a surety do they commit this crime, if we are to 
believe Martial in Epigram CXIX of his First Book. 
Therein doth he introduce and speak of a woman by 
name Bassa, a tribad, reproaching the same greatly in 




that men were never seen to visit her, in such wise that 
folk deemed her a second Lucretia for chasteness. But 
presently she came to be discovered, for that she was 
observed to be constantly welcoming at her house beauti- 
ful women and girls; and 'twas found that she herself 
did serve these and counterfeit a man. And the poet, to 
describe this, doth use the words, geminos committere 
cunnos. And further on, protesting against the thing, 
he doth signify the riddle and give it out to be guessed 
and imagined, in this Latin line : 

Hie, ubi vir non est, ut sit adulterium, 

"a strange thing," that is, "that where no man is, yet is 
adultery done." 

I knew once a courtesan of Rome, old and wily if ever 
there was one, that was named Isabella de Luna, a Span- 
ish woman, which did take in this sort of friendship 
another courtesan named Pandora. This latter was even- 
tually married to a butler in the Cardinal d'Armaignac's 
household, but without abandoning her first calling. Now 
this same Isabella did keep her, and extravagant and ill- 
ordered as she was in speech, I have oft times heard her 
say how that she did cause her to give her husbands 
more horns than all the wild fellows she had ever had. 
I know not in what sense she did intend this, unless she did 
follow the meaning of the Epigram of Martial just re- 
ferred to. 

Tis said how that Sappho the Lesbian was a very high 
mistress in this art, and that in after times the Lesbian 
dames have copied her therein, and continued the practice 
to the present day. So Lucian saith : such is the charac- 




ter of the Lesbian women, which will not suffer men at all. 
Now such women as love this practice will not suffer men, 
but devote themselves to other women and are called 
tribads, a Greek word derived, as I have learned of the 
Greeks, from rpiSu, TpiBeiv, that is to say fricare. These 
tribads are called in Latin fricatrices, and in French the 
same, that is women who do the way of donne con donne, 
as it is still found at the present day. 

Juvenal again speaks of these women, when he saith: 

. . . frictum Grissantis adorat 

talking of such a tribad, who adored and loved the em- 
braces of one Grissas. 

The excellent and diverting Lucian hath a chapter on 
this subject, and saith therein how that women do come 
mutually together. Moreover this name of tribad, which 
doth elsewhere occur but rarely as applied to these 
women, is freely employed by him throughout, and he 
saith that the female sex must needs be like the notorious 
Philaenis, who was used to parody the actions of manly 
love. At the same time he doth add, 'tis better far for 
a woman to be given up to a lustful affection for playing 
the male, than it is for a man to be womanish ; so utterly 
lacking in all courage and nobility of character doth 
such an one show himself. Thus the woman, according to 
this, which doth counterfeit the man, may well be reputed 
to be more valorous and courageous than another, as in 
truth I have known some such to be, as well in body as 
in spirit. 

En un autre endroit, Lucien introduit deux dames devi- 
santes de cet amour ; et une demande a 1'autre si une telle 
avait ete amoureuse d'elle, et si elle avait couche avec elle, 





et ce qu'elle lui avait fait. L'autre repondit librement: 
"Premierement, elle me baisa ainsi que font les hommes, 
non pas seulement en joignant les levres, mais en ouvrant 
aussi la bouche, cela s'entend en pigeonne, la langue en 
bouche; et, encore qu'elle n'eut point le membre viril et 
qu'elle flit semblable a nous autres, si est-ce qu'elle disait 
avoir de coeur, 1'affection et tout le reste viril; et puis 
je 1'embrassai comme un homme, et elle me le faisait, me 
baisait et allentait (je n'entends point bien ce mot), et me 
semblait qu'elle y prit plaisir outre mesure, et cohabita 
d'une certain Ja9on beaucoup plus agreable que d'un 
homme." Voila ce qu'en dit Lucien. 

Well, by what I have heard say, there be in many 
regions and lands plenty of such dames and Lesbian de- 
votees, in France, in Italy, in Spain, Turkey, Greece 
and other places. And wherever the women are kept se- 
cluded, and have not their entire liberty, this practice 
doth greatly prevail. 

The Turkish women go to the baths more for this 
than for any other reason, and are greatly devoted there- 
to. Even the courtesans, which have men at their wish 
and at all times, still do employ this habit, seeking out 
the one the other, as I have heard of sundry doing in Italy 
and in Spain. In my native France women of the sort are 
common enough; yet it is said to be no long time since 
they first began to meddle therewith, in fact that the 
fashion was imported from Italy by a certain lady of 
quality, whom I will not name. 

Several others have I known which have given account 
of the same manner of loves, amongst whom I have 
heard tell of a noble lady of the great world, who was 
superlatively given this way, and who did love many 




ladies, courting the same and serving them as men are 
wont. So would she take them and keep them at bed and 
board, and give them whatever they would. Her husband 
was right glad and well content thereat, as were many 
other husbands I have known, all of whom were right glad 
their wives did follow after this sort of affection rather 
than that of men, deeming them to be thus less wild. 
But indeed I think they were much deceived ; for by what 
I have heard said, this is but an apprenticeship, to come 
later to the greater one with men. 

How many of these Lesbian dames have I seen who, 
for all their customs and habits, yet fail not at the last 
to go after men!. Even Sappho herself, the mistress of 
them all, did she not end by loving her fond, favourite 
Phaon, for whose sake she died? For after all, as I have 
heard many fair ladies declare, there is nothing like men. 
All these other things do but serve them but in the lack of 
men. And if they but find a chance and opportunity 
free from scandal, they will straight quit their comrades 
and go throw their arms round some good man's neck. 

I have known in my time two very fair and honourable 
damsels of a noble house, cousins of one another, which 
having been used to lie together in one bed for the space 
of three years, did grow so well accustomed to this, 
that at the last getting the idea the said pleasure was 
but a meagre and imperfect one compared with that to 
be had with men, they did determine to try the latter, 
and soon became downright harlots. And this was the 
answer a very honourable damsel I knew did once make to 
her lover, when he asked her if she did never follow this 
way with her lady friend, "No, no !" she replied, "I like 
men too well." 





I have heard of an honourable gentleman who, desiring 
one day at Court to seek in marriage a certain very 
honourable damsel, did consult one of her kinswomen 
thereon. She told him frankly he would but be wasting 
his time; for, as she did herself tell me, such and such a 
lady, naming her, ('twas one I had already heard talk of) 
will never suffer her to marry. Instantly I did recognize 
the hang of it, for I was well aware how she did keep this 
damsel at bed and board, and did guard her carefully. 
The gentleman did thank the said cousin for her good 
advice and warning, not without a merry gibe or two at 
herself the while, saying she did herein put in a word or 
two for herself as well as for the other, for that she did 
take her little pleasures now and again under the rose. 
But this she did stoutly deny to me. 

This doth remind me of certain women which do thus 
and actually love these friends so dearly they would not 
share them for all the wealth in the world, neither with 
Prince nor great noble, with comrade or friend. They are 
as jealous of them as a beggarman of his drinking barrel; 
yet even he will offer this to any that would drink. But 
this lady was fain to keep the damsel all to herself, without 
giving one scrap to others. 

'Tis said how that weasels are touched with this sort 
of love, and delight female with female to unite and 
dwell together. And so in hieroglyphic signs, women lov- 
ing one another with this kind of affection were repre- 
sented of yore by weasels. I have heard tell of a lady 
which was used always to keep some of these animals, for 
that she did take pleasure in watching her little pets 

Voici un autre point, c'est que ces amours feminines se 





traitent en deux fa^ons, les unes par fricarelles, et par, 
comme dit ce poete, geminos committere connos. 

Cette faon n'apporte point de dommage, ce disent au- 
cuns, comme quand on s'aide d'instruments fa9onnes de 
. . . , mais qu'on a voulu appeler des g. . . . 

J'ai oui conter q'un grand prince, se doutant de deux 
dames de sa cour qui s'en aidaient, leur fit faire le guet si 
bien qu'il les surprit, tellement que 1'une se trouva saisie 
et accommodee d'un gros entre les jambes, si gentiment 
attache avec de petites bandelettes a 1'entour du corps qu'il 
semblait un membre naturel. Elle en f ut si surprise qu'elle 
n'eut loisir de 1'oter ; tellement que ce prince la contraignit 
de lui montrer comment elles deux se le faisaient. 

On dit que plusieurs femmes en sont mortes, pour en- 
gendrer en leurs matrices des apostumes f aites par mouve- 
ments et frottements point naturels. 

J'en sais bien quelques-unes de ce nombre, dont 9*a ete 
grand dommage, car c'etaient de tres belles et honnetes 
dames et demoiselles, qu'il cut bien mieux valu qu'elles 
eussent eu compagnie de quelques honnetes gentilhommes, 
qui pour cela ne les font mourir, mais vivre et ressusciter, 
ainsi que j'espere le dire ailleurs; et meme que pour la 
guerison de tel mal, comme j'ai oui' conter a aucuns chirur- 
giens, qu'il n'y a rien de plus propre que de les faire bien 
nettoyer ladedans par ces membres naturels des hommes, 
qui sont meilleurs que des pessaires qu'usent les medecins et 
chirurgiens, avec des eaux a ce composees ; et toutef ois il 
y a plusieurs femmes, nonobstant les inconvenients qu'elles 
en voient arriver souvent, si f aut-il qu'elles en aient de ces 
engins contrefaits. 

J'ai oui faire un conte, moi etant lors a la Cour, que 
la reine mere ay ant fait commandement de visiter un jour 




les chambres et coffres de tous ceux qui etaient loges dans 
le Louvre, sans epargner dames et filles, pour voir s'il n'y 
avait point d'armes cachees et meme des pistolets, durant 
nos troubles, il y en cut une qui fut trouvee saisie dans son 
coffre par le capitaine des gardes, non point de pistolets, 
mais de quati'e gros g. . . . gentiment fa9onnes, qui don- 
nerent bien de la risee au monde, et a elle bien de 1'etonne- 

Je connais la demoiselle : je crois qu'elle vit encore ; mais 
elle n'eut jamais bon visage. Tels instruments enfin sont 
tres dangereux. Je ferai encore ce conte de deux dames de 
la cour qui s'entr'aimaient si fort et etaient si chaudes a 
leur metier, qu'en quelque endroit qu'elles fussent ne s'en 
pouvaient garder ni abstenir que pour le moins ne fissent 
quelques signes d'amourettes ou de baiser; qui les scan- 
dulisaient si fort et donnaient a penser beaucoup aux 
homines. II y en avait une veuve, et 1'autre mariee ; et com- 
me la mariee, un jour d'une grande magnificence, se fut 
fort bien paree et habillee d'une robe de toile d'argent, 
ainsi que leur maitresse etait allee a vepres, elles entrerent 
dans son cabinet, et sur sa chaise percee se mirent a faire 
leur fricarelle si rudement et si impetueusement qu'elle en 
rompit sous elles, et la dame mariee qui faisait le dessous 
tomba avec sa belle robe de toile d'argent a la renverse 
tout a plat sur 1'ordure du bassin, si bien qu'elle se gata et 
souilla si fort qu'elle ne sut que faire que s'essuyer le mieux 
qu'elle put, se trousser, et s'en aller en grande hate changer 
de robe dans sa chambre, non sans pourtant avoir ete 
aper^ue et bien sentie a la trace, tant elle puait: dont il 
en fut ri assez par aucuns qui en surent le conte; meme 
leur maitresse le sut, qui s'en aidait comme elle, et en rit 
son saoul. Aussi il fallait bien que cette ardeur les mait- 




risat fort, que de n'attendre un lieu et un temps a propos, 
sans se scandaliser. 

Still excuse may be made for maids and widows for 
loving these frivolous and empty pleasures, preferring 
to devote themselves to these than to go with men and come 
to dishonour, or else to lose their pains altogether, as 
some have done and do every day. Moreover they deem 
they do not so much offend God, and are not such great 
harlots, as if they had to do with the men, maintaining 
there is a great difference betwixt throwing water in a 
vessel and merely watering about it and round the rim. 
However I refer me to them; I am neither their judge nor 
their husband. These last may find it ill, but generally I 
have never seen any but were right glad their wives should 
be companionable with their lady friends. And in very 
deed this is a very different thing from that with men, and, 
let Martial say what he please, this alone will make no 
man cuckold. 'Tis no Gospel text, this word of a foolish 
poet. In this at any rate he saith true, that 'tis much 
better for a woman to be masculine and a very Amazon 
and lewd after this fashion, than for a man to be fem- 
inine, like Sardanapalus or Heliogabalus, and many an- 
other their fellows in sin. For the more manlike she is, 
the braver is she. But concerning all this, I must refer 
me to the decision of wiser heads. 

Monsieur du Gua and I were reading one day in a little 
Italian book, called the Boole of Beauty, writ in the form 
of a dialogue by the Signor Angelo Firenzuola, a Floren- 
tine, and fell upon a passage wherein he saith that women 
were originally made by Jupiter and created of such 
nature that some are set to love men, but others the 
beauty of one another. But of these last, some purely 




and holily, and as an example of this the author doth 
cite the very illustrious Marguerite of Austria, which 
did love the fair Laodamia Fortenguerre, but others 
again wantonly and lasciviously, like Sappho the Les- 
bian, and in our own time at Rome the famous courtesan 
Cecilia of Venice. Now this sort do of their nature hate 
to marry, and fly the conversation of men all ever they 

Hereupon did Monsieur du Gua criticise the author, 
saying 'twas a falsehood that the said fair lady, Mar- 
guerite of Austria, did love the other fair dame of a 
pure and holy love. For seeing she had taken up her 
rather than others which might well be equally fair and 
virtuous as she, 'twas to be supposed it was to use her for 
her pleasures, neither more nor less than other women 
that do the like. Only to cover up her naughtiness, she 
did say and publish abroad how that her love for her 
was a pure and holy love, as we see many of her fellows 
do, which do dissemble their lewdness with suchlike words. 

This was what Monsieur du Gua did remark there- 
anent; and if any man doth wish to discuss the matter 
farther, well ! he is at liberty to do so. 

This same fair Marguerite was the fairest Princess 
was ever in all Christendom in her day. Now beauty and 
beauty will ever feel mutual love of one sort or another, 
but wanton love more often than the other. She was 
married three times, having at her first wedlock espoused 
King Charles VIII. of France, secondly John, son of the 
King of Aragon, and thirdly the Duke of Savoy, sur- 
named the Handsome. And men spake of them as 
the handsomest pair and fairest couple of the time in 
all the world. However the Princess did have little 



profit of this union, for that he died very young, 
and at the height of his beauty, for the which she had 
very deep sorrow and regret, and for that cause would 
never marry again. 

She it was had that fair church 2 built which lyeth 
near Bourg en Bresse, one of the most beautiful and 
noble edifices in Christendom. She was aunt to the Em- 
peror Charles, and did greatly help her nephew; for she 
was ever eager to allay all differences, as she and the 
Queen Regent did at the treaty of Cambrai, whereunto 
both of them did assemble and met together there. And 
I have heard tell from old folk, men and women, how it 
was a beauteous sight there to see these two great Prin- 
cesses together. 

Cornelius Agrippa hath writ a brief Treatise on the 
virtue of women, and all in panegyric of this same Mar- 
guerite. The book is a right good one, as it could not 
but be on so fair a subject, and considering its author, 
who was a very notable personage. 

I have heard a tale of a certain great lady, a Princess, 
which among all her maids of honour did love one above 
all and more than the rest. At first were folk greatly 
surprised at this, for there were plenty of others did 
surpass her in all respects. But eventually 'twas dis- 
covered she was a hermaphrodite. 

I have heard a certain great lady also named as being 
hermaphrodite. She hath a virile member, but very tiny ; 
yet hath she more of the woman's complexion, and I 
know, by having seen her, she is very fair. I have heard 
sundry famous doctors say they have seen plenty such. 

Well, this is all I shall say on the subject of this 
Chapter, one I could have made a thousand times longer 




than I have done, having matter so ample and lengthy, 
that if all the cuckold husbands and their wives that do 
make them so, were to hold hands, and form a ring, I 
verily believe this would be great enough to surround 
and encircle a good half of the globe. 

In the days of the late King Francis an old song 
was current, which I have heard a very honourable and 
venerable dame repeat, to the following effect : 

Mais quand viendra la saison 

Que les cocus s'assembleront, 
Le mien ira devant, qui portera la banniere ; 
Les autres suivront apres, le vostre sera au derriere. 

La procession en sera grande, 

L'on verra une tres longue bande. 

(But when the season shall come that the cuckolds shall 
muster, then mine shall march in front, and shall bear the 
banner; the rest shall follow after, while yours shall bring up 
the rear. A grand sight will the procession of them be, a 
long, long train !) 

Yet would I not inveigh over much against honourable 
and modest wives, which have borne themselves virtuously 
and faithfully in the fealty sacredly sworn to their hus- 
bands; and I do hope anon to write a separate chapter 
to their praise, and give the lie to Master Jean de Meung. 3 
Now this poet in his Roman de la Rose did write these 
words: Toutes vous autres femmes . . . 

Estes ou fustes, 
D'effet ou de volonte, putes. 

(Ye women every one are, or have been, mere whores, 
if not in deed, then in desire.) 

By these verses he did incur such ill will on the part of 
the Court ladies of that day, that by a plot sanctioned 



of the Queen and with her privity, these did undertake 
one day to whip the poet, and did strip him stark naked. 
But as all stood ready to strike, he did beseech them 
that at any rate the greatest whore of all should begin 
first. Then each for very shame durst not strike first; 
and in this wise he did escape the whip. Myself have 
seen the story represented in an old tapestry among the 
ancient furnishings of the Louvre. 


|O less do I admire a certain Preacher, who one 
day preaching to a worthy company, and tak- 
ing occasion to reprove the habits of some 
women and of their husbands which did en- 
dure to be cuckolded of them, did of a sudden set to and 
shout out : "Yes, I know them well, I can see them, and I 
am going to throw these two stones at the heads of the 
biggest cuckolds in the assembly." Then as he did make 
pretence to throw them, there was never a man in all the 
congregation but did duck his head, or put up his cloak, 
or his cape, or his arm, before his face, for to ward off the 
blow. But the divine, rebuking them, cried, "Did I not 
tell you? I did suppose there might be two or three cuck- 
olds in my congregation; but lo! by what I see, there is 
never a man but is one." 

Still, let these wild talkers say what they will, there be 
many very chaste and honourable women, who if they had 
to give battle to their opposites, would gain the day, not 
for their numbers but their virtue, which doth resist and 
easily subdue its contrary. 

Moreover when the aforenamed Jean de Meung doth 




blame those women which are "whores, in desire," meseems 
he ought rather to commend and extol such to the skies, 
seeing that if they do burn so ardently in their body and 
spirit, yet put no wrong in practice, they do herein mani- 
fest their virtue, and the firmness and nobility of their 
heart. For they do choose rather to burn and consume 
away in their own fire and flame of desire, like that rare 
and wondrous bird the phoenix, than forfeit and stain 
their honour. Herein they do resemble the white ermine, 
which had rather die than foul itself, 'tis the device of a 
very great lady I knew at one time, yet but ill carried 
out by her, seeing how, it being in their power to apply 
the remedy, yet do they so nobly refrain, and seeing there 
is no greater virtue nor no nobler victory than to master 
and subdue one's own nature. Hereanent we have a very 
excellent story in the Cent Nouvelles of the Queen of 
Navarre, concerning that honourable lady of Pampeluna, 
who albeit in her heart and of desire a whore, and burning 
for the love of the handsome and noble M. d'Avannes, did 
choose rather to die in her heat of longing than seek her 
remedy, as she did find means to inform him in her dying 

Most unfairly and unjustly then did this same fair and 
honourable lady bring to pass her own death; and, as I 
did hear an honourable gentleman and lady say, when 
discoursing on this passage, the thing was not void of 
offence against God, seeing she could have saved herself 
from death. But to so bring it on herself and precipitate 
it, this is rightly called suicide. And there be many of 
her kidney which by reason of this great continence and 
abstinence from the pleasures of love, do bring about their 
own death, both for body and spirit. 





I have it from a very great physician, and I fancy he 
hath given a like lesson and instruction to several honour- 
able dames, that the human body can scarce ever be 
well, unless all the parts and members thereof, from the 
greatest to the least, do all of them and in due accord 
perform those offices and functions which wise nature hath 
appointed them for their proper health. All must make 
one harmony together, like a concert of music, it being in 
no wise right that while some of the said parts and mem- 
bers are active, others be out of work. So in a common- 
weal must all officers, artisans, workmen and others, do 
their several tasks unanimously, without idling and with- 
out throwing their work the one on the other, if it is to 
go well and the body politic to continue healthy and en- 
tire. And so is it likewise with the human body. 

Suchlike fair ladies, whores in spirit but chaste in body, 
do verily deserve everlasting praises. Not so they which 
are cold as marble, dull, slack, and stirless as a rock, and 
have naught of the flesh about them or any atom of feel- 
ing though such are scarce ever really to be found. 
These be neither fair nor sought after of men, and may 
be described in the Latin poet's words, 

. . . Casta quam nemo rogavit, 
(Chaste, seeing no man ever solicited her favours.) 

As to this, I do know a great lady, who was used to say 
to sundry of her companions that were fair of face, 
"Truly God hath done me a great grace in that he hath 
not made me fair like you. For then should I have loved 
like you, and been an harlot even as you are." Wherefore 
the more should men commend such women as are fair 
and yet chaste, seeing what their natural bent is. 



. . * /wiMMtri 



Very often too are we deceived in such women. For 
some of them there be which, to see them so full of airs 
and graces, so rueful and pitiful of mien, so cold and dis- 
creet in bearing, and so straitlaced and modest in their 
words and severe costume, a man might well take for 
regular Saints and most prudish dames. Yet are the 
same inwardly and of heart's desire, and eke outwardly 
in very deed, downright fine harlots. 

Others again we see which by their pleasant ways and 
merry words, their free gestures and worldly, modish 
dress, might well be deemed of dissolute manners and ready 
to give themselves at a moment's notice. Yet of their 
body will these same be highly correct and respectable 
dames, in the world's eye. As to their secret life, we 
can only guess at the truth, so well is it hid away. 

Of these things I could bring forward many and many 
an example, that myself have seen and heard of; but I 
will content me with one which Livy doth cite, and Boc- 
caccio in even better terms, of a certain fair Roman dame, 
by name Claudia Quinta. This lady did ever appear 
abroad more than all the other Roman ladies in showy and 
something immodest dress, and by her gay and free bear- 
ing did seem more worldly than was meet, and so won a 
very ill name as touching her honour. Yet when the great 
day came for the welcoming to the city of the goddess 
Cybele, she was cleared of all ill repute. For she had 
the especial honour, above all other women, to receive the 
image of the goddess out of the ship, to handle and con- 
vey the same to the town. At this were all men aston- 
ished, for it had been declared that the best man and the 
best woman of the city alone were worthy of this office. 
Note how folk may be deceived in women. One is bound 



to know them well first, and well examine them, before 
judging them, one sort as much as the other. 

So must I, before making an end of this subject, name 
yet another virtue and property cuckoldry doth contain. 
This I have of a very honourable and fair lady of a good 
house, into whose closet being one day entered in, I did 
find her in the very act of finishing the inditing of a Tale 
with her own hand. This Tale she did show me very 
freely, for I was one of her close friends, and she kept 
no secrets from me. She was very witty and ready of 
words, and right well endowed for love. Now the opening 
of the tale was after this wise : 

"It doth seem," she saith, "how that among other good 
properties cuckoldry may bring with it, is the good and 
excellent knowledge won thereby as to how the wit is 
right pleasantly exercised for the pleasure and content of 
human nature. For this it is which doth watch and in- 
vent and fashion the needful artifices to succeed, whereas 
mere nature doth only furnish the desire and sensual 
appetite. And this may be hid by many ruses and cun- 
ning devices that are practised in the trade of love, 
which doth give horns to poor mankind. For 'tis needful 
to cajole a jealous, suspicious and angry husband; 'tis 
needful to cajole and blind the eyes of those that be most 
ready to suspect evil, and to turn aside the most curious 
from knowledge of the truth. 'Tis needful to inspire 
belief in good faith just where is naught but fraud, and 
frankness where is naught but dissimulation. In a word 
so many be the difficulties must be overcome to ensure 
success, these do far exceed what natural endowment can 
reach. The wit must be given full play, which doth fur- 
nish forth pleasure, and maketh more horns than ever 


;.,:;.. * . 4 . ^xMrtfiitir^i^r^ 



the body doth, which strictly speaking implanteth and 
fixeth the same." 

Such were the very words of the said fair lady's dis- 
course, without any change whatsoever, which she doth 
make at the beginning of her story, that she writ herself. 
However she did disguise the thing under other names; 
and so, following out the loves of the Lord and lady she 
hath to do with, and to reach an end and proper perfec- 
tion, she doth allege that the appearance of love is but 
one of satisfaction and content. 'Tis altogether without 
form until the entire gratification and possession of the 
same, and many a time folk deem they have arrived at 
this extreme, when really they are far enough from their 
desire. Then for all recompense remaineth naught but 
the time lost, a cause for bitter regrets. These last words 
do deserve to be carefully noted and well weighed, for 
they do hit the mark and afford matter for serious 
thought. Still there is no other thing but the actual en- 
joyment in love whether for man or woman to prevent all 
regrets for the past time. And for this cause the said 
honourable lady did give assignation to her lover in a 
wood, whither oft times she would betake her to walk in a 
very fair avenue, at the entrance whereof she did leave 
her women, and so went forward to find him under a fine, 
spreading, shady chestnut. For it was in summer-tide. 
"In the which retreat," to go on with the lady's tale in 
her own words, "there is no doubt what life the twain did 
lead for a space, and what a fine altar they did raise up 
to the poor husband in the Temple of Ceraton (Temple 
of Horns), albeit they were not in the island of Delos, 
the which fane was made all of horns, doubtless founded 
by some gay and gallant fellow of yore." 




This is the way the lady did malce a mock of her hus- 
band, as well in her writings as also in her pleasures and 
in very deed. Note well all she saith, for her words do 
carry weight, being pronounced and writ down by so 
clever and honourable a dame. 

The Tale in truth is right excellent, and I would gladly 
have copied the same and inserted it in this place. But 
alas ! 'tis too long, for the discourse and negotiations be- 
fore coming to the end they did, are finely expressed and 
eke lengthy. First she doth reproach her lover, who was 
ever praising her extravagantly, how that 'twas the effect 
rather of native and fresh passion in him than of any 
especial merit in her, albeit she was one of the fairest and 
most honourable ladies of the time. Then, for to combat 
this opinion, the lover must needs give great proofs of his 
love, the which are right well specified and depicted in 
the said Tale. Afterward, being now in accord, the pair 
do exhibit all sorts of ruses, trickeries and love cajoleries, 
both against the husband and against other folk, all 
which be of a surety very excellent and very wittily con- 

I did beseech the lady to give me a copy of the Tale. 
This she did very readily, and would have none copy it 
but herself, for fear of indiscretion; the which copy I do 
hold as one of my most precious possessions. 

Now this lady was very right in assigning this virtue 
and good property to cuckoldry. For before devoting 
herself to love, she was not clever at all. But later, hav- 
ing once taken it in hand, she did become one of the most 
witty and clever women in all France, as well in this prov- 
ince as in others. And in truth she is by no means the 
enly one I have seen which hath got good training by the 




handling of love. For I have known an host of dames 
which were most silly and awkward at their first begin- 
ning; yet had the same not tarried a year at the school 
of Cupid and his lady mother Venus before they came 
forth thereof right clever and accomplished adepts in all 
ways. And for myself I have never yet seen an harlot 
but was right clever and well able to hold her own. 

Now will I ask yet this one question more, in which 
season of the year are the most cuckolds made, and which 
is the most meet for love, and to shake the virtue of a 
woman, whether wife or maid ? Without a doubt common 
consent hath it there is never a time for this like the 
Spring, the which doth awaken body and spirit, both put 
to sleep by the wearisome, melancholic winter-tide. See- 
ing all birds and beasts do rejoice at this season's com- 
ing, and all betake them to love, surely mankind, which 
have yet stronger feelings and promptings, will experience 
the same even more, and womenfolk above all others, 
an opinion maintained by many philosophers and wise 
physicians. For truly women do then entertain a greater 
heat and lovingness than at any other season, as I have 
heard sundry fair and honourable dames say, and in espe- 
cial a certain great lady, that did never miss, so sure as 
Spring-tide came round, to be more touched and pricked 
of these feelings than at any other period whatsoever. 
She was used to say she did feel the fresh grass springing, 
and did crave after the same like as mare and colts do, 
and she must needs taste thereof, or she should grow pined 
and thin. And this she did, I do assure you, and at the 
season did wax more lustful than ever. Thus three or 
four new intrigues that I have seen her enter on in her 
life, all these she did commence in Spring, and not with- 





out reason; for of all the months in the year, April and 
May be the most surely consecrate and devoted to Venus, 
at the which times fair ladies do set them, more than 
afore, to pet their bodies and deck them out daintily, to 
arrange their hair in wanton wise and don light raiment. 
And it may well be said how that these new changes in 
dress and ways do all aim at one and the same thing, to 
wit lasciviousness, and to people the earth with cuckoos 
a-walking about thereon, to match the winged ones that 
the air of heaven doth produce in these same months of 
April and May. 

Further, 'tis not to be supposed but that fair dames, 
maids and widows alike, whenas they do behold in their 
walks abroad in their forests and woods, their warrens, 
parks, meadows, gardens, shrubberies and other pleas- 
aunces, beasts and birds all a-making love together and 
sporting in wanton wise, should feel strange prickings in 
their flesh, which do make them fain to apply instant rem- 
edy for the smart. And this is just one of the persuasive 
and moving things that a many lovers are wont to say 
one to the other, when they see their mates lacking heat 
and flame and zest ; for then do they upbraid them, point- 
ing to the example of beasts and birds, the which whether 
wild or tame, as sparrows and house-pigeons, are ever at 
some wanton sport, ever engendering and conceiving, all 
nature at the work of reproduction, down to the very 
trees and plants. Now this is what a fair Spanish lady 
found one day to say to a cavalier who was over cold 
or over respectful: Sa, gentil cavallero, mira como los 
amores de todas suertes se tratan y triumfan en este 
verano, y V, S. quada flaco y abatido, that is to say, 
"See, Sir cavalier, how everv sort of love doth prevail 




and triumph in this Spring-time ; yet all the while you are 
slack and crest-fallen." 

Spring-time ended doth give place to Summer, which 
cometh after, bringing its hot days with it. And seeing 
one heat doth provoke another, fair dames do thereby 
double theirs; and truly no refreshment can so well as- 
suage the same as a bain chaud et trouble de sperme ve- 
nerig. 'Tis in no wise contrary to sense for an ill to be 
medicined by its contrary, as like is medicined by like. 
For albeit a woman should bathe her every day, and every 
day plunge in the clearest fountain of a whole country- 
side, yet do this naught avail, nor yet the lightest gar- 
ments ever she can don, for to give her refreshing cool- 
ness, though she tuck them up as short as she please, 
without ever a petticoat, as many do in hot weather. 
And this is just the worst of it ; for in such costume are 
they drawn to look at themselves, and take delight in their 
own beauty, and pore over their own charms in the fair 
sunlight, and thus beholding their bodies so fair, white, 
smooth, plump and in good case, do of a sudden feel the 
heat of concupiscence and sore temptation. But indeed 
of such martyrs of continence mighty few have ever been 
known ; and silly fools would they have been, had it been 
otherwise. And so they lie there in their fine beds, unable 
to endure coverlet or sheet, but tucking up their very 
shifts to display themselves half naked ; then at daybreak, 
as the rising sun doth shine in on them and they come to 
contemplate their bodies more closely still and at their 
ease on all sides and in every part, they grow exceeding 
fain after their lovers and fondly wait their coming. And 
so, should these by any hap arrive at this moment, lo! 
they are right welcome, and very soon clipped in their 




arms and close embraced. "For then," say they, "is the 
very best embracement and enjoyment of any hour of 
day or night." 

None the less is there an old proverb which saith : "June 
and July, mouth wet and body dry ;" and to these may be 
added the month of August likewise. The same is true 
also of men, who are in a parlous state when they do get 
overheated at these seasons, and in especial when the dog- 
star is in the ascendant, a thing they should beware of. 
But if they will burn at their own candle, well ! so much 
the worse for them ! Women run no such risk, for that 
everj r month, and every season, every time and every 
planet, are good for them. 

Then again the good summer fruits appear, that seem 
as if they must refresh these worthy dames. Some I have 
noted to eat little of these, others much. Yet for all this, 
scarce any change is seen in their heat, whether they eat 
much or little, whether they refrain altogether or eat 
thereof freely. For the worst of it is that, if there be 
sundry fruits which have power to refresh, there are many 
others that have just as powerful a heating effect, to 
the which the ladies do most often resort, as also to sundry 
simples that be of their nature good and pleasant to eat 
in soups and salads, as for example asparagus, artichokes, 
morels, truffles, mushrooms, and pumpkins. Then there 
be sundry newfangled viands which the cooks, at their 
orders, do well know how to contrive and accommodate at 
once to their gourmandise and their wanton desires, and 
which doctors likewise are cunning in ordering them. But 
if only some wise gallant, expert in these mysteries, would 
undertake to complete this poor account of mine, he 
might well fulfil the task far better than I can. 





After all these fine dainties, look to yourselves, that's 
all, poor lovers and husbands ! Verily if you be not well 
prepared, you are very like to be disgraced, and find the 
fair ones have left you for pastures new. 

Nor is this all; for to these new fruits, and herbs of 
garden and field, must be added great rich pasties, an in- 
vention of late times, compounded of great store of pis- 
tachio nuts, pine-seeds and other inflammatory drugs of 
the apothecary's store, the which Summer doth produce 
and give in greater abundance than Winter and the other 
seasons. Moreover in Summer time is there usually a 
greater slaughter of cockerels and young cocks ; where- 
as in Winter 'tis rather the grown birds, that are not 
so good or so fitting for this as the young ones, these 
last being hotter, more ardent and more wanton than the 
other sort. Here is one, amongst many, of the good 
pleasures and conveniences that Summer-tide doth afford 
for lovers. 

Now these pasties compounded in this wise of dainty 
trifles, of young cocks and the tips of artichokes and 
truffles, or other heating viands, are much used by many 
ladies, by what I hear said. And these same ladies, when 
they are eating thereof and a-fishing in the platter, put- 
ting their hand into the mess or plunging a fork therein, 
will bring out and clap in their mouth now an artichoke 
or a truffle, now a pistachio-nut or a cockscomb or other 
morsel, and at any of these will cry out with a look of 
sad disappointment, "Bah! a blank." But when they 
come across one of the dear cock's crests, and find these 
under their teeth, lo ! they do exclaim, "A prize, by'r 
lady !" and laugh gaily. 'Tis like at the lottery in Italy ; 





and a man might deem they had drawn a real prize and 
won some rich and precious jewel. 

Well ! they surely owe good thanks to these same good 
little cockerels, which Summer doth produce, as doth the 
first half of Autumn likewise, the which season I put along 
with Summer. The same time of each year doth give us 
many other sorts of fruits and small fowl that are an 
hundred times more hot than those of Winter-tide or the 
second half of Autumn, the near neighbour of chill Win- 
ter. True this is reckoned part of the season of Autumn ; 
yet can we not gather therein all these excellent simples 
at their best nor aught else as in the hot time of the year. 
Yet doth Winter ever endeavour to supply what it may, 
for instance those good thistles which do engender an 
excellent heat and concupiscence, whether raw or cooked, 
including the little hot field thistles, on the which asses 
live and thrive and are vigorous love-makers. These Sum- 
mer doth harden and dry up, whereas Winter doth make 
the same tender and delicate. Exceeding good salads are 
made of these, a new invented delicacy. 

Furthermore, and beside all these things, so many other 
serviceable drugs are sought out by apothecaries, dealers 
and perfumers, that naught is overlooked, whether for 
these same pasties or for soups. And of a surety good 
justification may be found by women for this keeping up 
and maintaining of the heat in Winter time all ever they 
can. "For," say they, "just as we are careful to main- 
tain the heat of the outside of the body by heavy clothing 
and thick furs, why shall we not do the same for the in- 
side?" The men say on their side, "Nay! what availeth 
it thus to add heat to heat, like putting silk on silk, con- 
trary to the Canons, seeing of their own selves they be 



;iiaa!^t^!^4igiaHH^!^! l ^ 

hot enough already, and that at whatsoever hour we are 
fain to assail them, they be always ready by their natural 
complexion, without resort to any artificial aid at all?" 
What would you have? Mayhap 'tis that they fear their 
hot and boiling blood will lose strength and ebb in their 
veins, and grow chill and icy, and if it be not kept hot, 
like that of an hermit that liveth on roots alone. 

Well ! well ! let them have their way. 'Tis all good for 
merry gallants ; for women being so constantly in ardour, 
at the smallest assailment of love upon them, lo ! they are 
taken at once, and the poor husbands cuckold and horned 
like satyrs! Nay! sometimes they will go still further, 
these worthy dames, for that they do sometimes share 
their good pasties, broths and soups with their lovers out 
of compassion, to the end these may be more doughty 
and not find themselves overexhausted when it cometh to 
work, and so themselves may enjoy more exciting and 
abundant pleasure. Likewise will they give them receipts 
to have dishes compounded privately in their own kitch- 
ens. But herein have some been sore deceived and disap- 
pointed. Thus a certain gallant gentleman I have heard 
tell of, having in this wise taken his special soup and com- 
ing all cock-a-whoop to accost his mistress, did threat her 
how that he would give it her soundly, telling her he had 
taken his soup and eat his pasty. She did merely answer 
him, ''Well! you shall prove your worth; at present I 
know naught about it." Presently, when they were now in 
each other's arms and at work, these dainties did but serve 
him poorly. Whereon the lady did declare that either 
his cook had compounded them ill, or had been niggardly 
of the drugs and ingredients needed, or else he had not 
made all due preparation before taking his sovran medi- 





cine, or mayhap his body was for that while ill disposed 
to take it and feel the proper effects thereof. Thus did 
she make mock of the poor man. 

Still 'tis to be remembered all simples and all drugs, all 
viands and all medicines, are not suitable for all alike. 
With some they will operate, while others do but draw 
blank. Moreover I have known women which, eating of 
these viands, when 'twas cast up to them how they would 
surely by this means have extraordinary and excessive en- 
joyment, could yet declare, and affirm the same on oath, 
that such diet did never cause them any temptation of any 
sort whatever. But God wot, they must herein surely 
have been playing the pretended prude! 

Now as to the claims of Winter, ladies that do cham- 
pion this season, maintain that for soups and hot viands, 
they do know as good receipts for to make these every 
whit as good in Winter time as at any other part of the 
year. They do possess ample experience, and do declare 
this season very meet for love-making. True it is Win- 
ter is dim and dark, close, quiet, retired and secret, yet 
so must love be, and be performed in secret, in some re- 
tired and darkling spot, whether in a closet apart, or 
in a chimney corner near a good fire, the which doth en- 
gender, by keeping close thereto and for a considerable 
while, as much good heat as ever the Summer can pro- 
voke. Then how it is in the dimly lit space betwixt bed 
and wall, where the eyes of the company, provided they 
be near the fire a-warming of themselves, do but hardly 
penetrate, or else seated on chests or beds in remote cor- 
ners, so to enjoy dalliance. For seeing man and maid 
pressing the one to the other, folk deem 'tis but because 
of the cold and to keep them warm. Yet in this wise are 




fine things done, when the lights are far withdrawn on a 
distant table or sideboard. 

Besides, which is best, Summer or Winter, when one is 
in bed? 'Tis the greatest delight in all the world for 
lovers, man and maid, to cling together and kiss close, to 
entwine one with other, for fear of the nipping cold, and 
this not for a brief space but for a long while, and so 
right pleasantly warm each other, all this without feel- 
ing aught at all of the excessive heat Summer doth pro- 
voke, and that extreme of sweating that doth sore hinder 
the carrying out of love. For truly in Summer time, in- 
stead of embracing tight and pressing together and 
squeezing close, a pair must needs hold loosely and much 
apart. Then Winter is best in this, say the ladies, ac- 
cording to the doctors : men are more meet for love, more 
ardent and devoted thereto, in Winter than in Summer. 

I knew once in former days a very great Princess, who 
was possessed of much wit, and both spake and wrote 
better than most. One day she did set herself to com- 
pose verses in favour and praise of Winter, and the meet- 
ness of that season for love. By this we may conceive 
herself had found it highly favourable and fitting for the 
same. These stanzas were very well composed, and I had 
them long preserved in my study. Would I had valued 
them more, and could find them now, to give the same here, 
to the end men might read therein and mark the great 
merits of Wintertide and the good properties and meet- 
ness for love of that season. 

I knew another very high-born lady, and one of the 
fairest women in all the world, which being new widowed, 
and making pretence she cared not, in view of her new 
weeds and state of widowhood, to go of evenings after 



supper either to visit the Court, or the dance, or the 
Queen's couchee, and was fain not to seem worldly-minded, 
did never leave her chamber, but suffering all and sundry 
of her attendants, male and female, to hie them to the 
dance, and her son and every soul about her, or even 
actually sending them thither, would retire to her secret 
chamber. And thither her lover of old, well treated, 
loved and favoured of her in her married life, would pres- 
ently arrive. Or else, having supped with her, he would 
stay on and never leave her, sitting out a certain brother- 
in-law, who was much by way of guarding the fair lady 
from ill. So there would they practise and renew their 
former loves, and indulge in new ones preparatory to a 
second wedlock, the which was duly accomplished the fol- 
lowing Summer. Well! by all I can see after duly con- 
sidering the circumstances, I do believe no other season 
could have been so favourable for their projects as Win- 
ter was, as indeed I did overhear one of her dainty, in- 
triguing maids also declare. 

So now, to draw to an end, I do maintain and declare: 
that all seasons be meet for love, when they be chosen 
suitably, and so as to accord with the caprice of the men 
and women which do adopt the same. For just as War, 
that is Mars' pastime, is made at all seasons and times, 
and just as the God doth give his victories as it pleaseth 
him, and according as he doth find his fighting men well 
armed and of good spirit to offer battle, so doth Venus 
in like wise, according as she doth find her bands of lovers, 
men and maids, well disposed for the fray. Indeed the 
seasons have scarce aught to do therewith, and which of 
them is taken and which chosen doth make but little dif- 
ference. Nor yet do their simples, or fruits, their drugs, 



or drug-dealers, nor any artifice or device that women do 
resort to, much avail them, whether to augment their 
heat, or to refresh and cool the same. 

For indeed, as to this last, I do know a great lady, 
whose mother, from her childhood up, seeing her of a 
complexion so hot and lecherous that it was like to take 
her one fine day straight on the road to the brothel, did 
make her use sorrel- juice constantly by the space of 
thirty years regularly at all her meals, whether with her 
meat or in her soups and broths, or to drink great two- 
handled bowls full thereof unmixed with other viands; in 
one word every sauce she did taste was sorrel- juice, sorrel- 
juice, everlastingly. Yet were these mysterious and cool- 
ing devices all in vain, for she ended by becoming a right 
famous and most arrant harlot, one that had never need 
of those pasties I have spoke of above to give her heat of 
body, seeing she had enough and to spare of her own. 
Yet is this lady as greedy as any to eat of these same 
dishes ! 

Well! I must needs make an end, albeit I could have 
said much more and alleged many more good reasons and 
instances. But we must not be for ever gnawing con- 
tentedly at the same bone ; and I would fain hand over my 
pen to another and better writer than myself, to argue 
out the merits of the divers seasons. I will only name 
the wish and longing a worthy Spanish dame did once 
express. The same did wish and desire it to be Winter 
when her love time should be, and her lover a fire, to the 
end that when she should come to warm herself at him and 
be rid of the bitter cold she should feel, he might enjoy 
the delight of warming her, and she of absorbing his heat 
as she did get warm. Moreover she would so have oppor- 




tunity of displaying and exposing herself to him often 
and at her ease, that he might enjoy the sight of her 
lovely limbs hid before under her linen and skirts, as to 
warm herself the more thoroughly, and keep up her other, 
internal, fire and heat of concupiscence. 

Next she did wish for Spring to come, and her lover to 
be a garden full of flowers, with the which she might 
deck her head and her beautiful throat and bosom, yea! 
and roll her lovely body among them between the sheets. 

Likewise she did oftimes wish it to be Summer, and her 
lover a clear fountain or glittering stream, for to receive 
her in his fair, fresh waters, when she should go to bathe 
therein and take sport, and so fully and completely to 
let him see, touch over and over again, each of her lovely, 
wanton limbs. 

Finally she did desire it to be Autumn, for him to re- 
turn once more to his proper shape, and she to be a woman 
and her lover a man, that both might in that season have 
wit, sense and reason to contemplate and remember over 
all the by-gone happiness, and so live in these delight- 
some memories and reveries of the past, and inquire and 
discourse betwixt them which season had been most meet 
and pleasant for their loves. 

In such wise was this lady used to apportion and ad- 
judge the seasons. Wherein I do refer me to the decision 
of better informed writers than myself to say which of 
the four was like to be in its qualities most delightful and 
agreeable to the twain. 

Now for good and all I do make an end of this present 
subject. If any will know further thereof and learn more 
of the divers humours of cuckolds, let him study an old 




song which was made at Court some fifteen or sixteen 
years agone, concerning cuckolds, whereof this is the 
burden : 

Un cocu meine 1'autre, et tous jours sont en peine; 
Un cocu meine 1'autre. 

(One cuckoo maketh many, and all are in sorry case; one 
cuckoo many maketh.) 

I beg all honourable ladies which shall read any of my 
tales in this chapter, if byhap they do pay any heed to 
the same, to forgive me and if they be somewhat highly 
spiced, for that I could scarce have disguised them in 
more modest fashion, seeing the sauce such must needs 
have. And I will say further I could well have cited 
others still more extravagant and diverting, were it not 
that, finding it impossible to cover the same with any 
veil of decent modesty, I was afeared to offend such hon- 
ourable ladies as shall be at the pains and do me the 
honour to read my books. Now will I add but one thing 
further, to wit, that these tales which I have here set down 
are no petty stories of market-town and village gossip, 
but do come from high and worthy sources, and deal not 
with common and humble personages. I have cared not 
to have aught to do but only with great and high subjects, 
albeit I have dealt with such discreetly ; and as I name no 
names, I think I have well avoided all scandal and cause 
of offence. 

Femmes, qui transformez vos marys en oyseaux, 
Ne vous en lassez point, la forme en est tres-belle; 
Car, si vous les laissez en leurs premieres peaux, 
Ilz voudront vous tenir tou jours en curatelle, 


Et comme homines voudront user de leur puissance ; 
Au lieu qu'estant oyseaux, ne vous feront d'offense. 

(Ladies fair, which do transform your husbands into birds, 
weary not of the task, the shape they so take is a right con- 
venient one. For if you do leave them in their first skins, they 
will for ever keep you under watch and ward, and manlike will 
fain to use their power over you; whereas being birds, they 
will do you no offence.) 

Another Song: 

Ceux qui voudront blasmer les femmes amiables 
Qui font secretement leurs bons marys cornards, 
Les blasment a grand tort, et ne sont que bavards; 
Car elles font 1'aumosne et sont fort charitables. 
En gardant bien la loy a 1'aumosne donner, 
Ne faut en hypocrit la trompette sonner. 

(They that will be blaming well meaning wives which do in 
secret give their husbands horns, these do much wrong by their 
reproaches, and are but vain babblers; for indeed such dames 
are but giving alms and showing good charity. They do well 
observe the Christian law of almsgiving, never, like the 
hypocrites, sound the trumpet to proclaim your good deeds!) 

An old Rhyme on the Game of Love, found by the 
Author among some old papers: 

Le jeu d'amours, ou jeunesse s'esbat, 
A un tablier se peut accomparer. 
Sur un tablier les dames on abat ; 
Puis il convient le trictrac preparer, 
Et en celui ne faut que se parer. 
Plusieurs font Jean. N'est-ce pas jeu honneste, 



Qui par nature un joueur admoneste 
Passer le temps de coeur joyeusement? 
Mais en defaut de trouver la raye nette, 
II s'en ensuit un grand jeu de torment. 

(The game of love, whereat youth takes its delight, may be 
likened to a chess-board. On a chess-board we lay down the 
pieces, dames, ladies; then 'tis the time to marshal our men, 
and herein we have but to make the best game we can. Many 
play the masterful king; and is it not merely fair play, and an 
abomination of dame Nature, that a man should make his game 
in hearty, joyous wise? But should he fail to find a sound 
queen (quean), why! his game is like to end in woeful pain 
and sorrow. 1 ) 



tnc question wnico ooto ovoc toe tnotc content in 
l <J 

iooc, vooctfoct loucntncu dccina ot apcolclna. 


|HIS is a question as concerning love that might 
well deserve a more profound and deeper 
writer to solve than I, to wit: which doth 
afford the more contentment in the fruition 
of love, whether contact or attouchment, speech, or sight. 
Mr. Pasquier, 1 a great authority of a surety in juris- 
prudence the which is his especial profession, as well as 
in the polite and humane sciences, doth give a disquisition 
thereon in his letters, the which he hath left us in writ- 
ing. Yet hath he been by far too brief, and seeing how 
distinguished a man he is, he should not in this matter 
have shown himself so niggard of his wise words as he 
hath been. For if only he had seen good to enlarge 
somewhat thereon, and frankly to declare what he might 
well have told us, his letter which he hath indited on this 
point had been an hundred times more delightsome and 

He doth base his main discourse on sundry ancient 
rhymes of the Comte Thibaut de Champagne, 2 the which 
verses I have never set eyes on, save only the small frag- 



ment that M. Pasquier doth quote in his letter. This 
same good and gallant Knight of yore doth, I conceive, 
write exceeding well, not certainly in such good set terms 
as do our gallant poets of to-day, but still with excellent 
good sense and sound reason. Moreover he had a right 
beauteous and worthy subject, to wit the fair Queen 
Blanche of Castille, mother of Saint-Louis, of whom he 
was not little enamoured, but indeed most deeply, and 
had taken her for his mistress. But in this what blame 
or what reproach for the said Queen? Though she had 
been the most prudent and virtuous of women, yet could 
she in any wise hinder the world from loving her and 
burning at the fire of her beauty and high qualities, see- 
ing it is the nature of all merit and high perfection to 
provoke love? The whole secret is not to yield blindly 
to the will of the lover. 

This is why we must not deem it strange, or blame this 
fair Queen, if that she was too fondly loved, and that dur- 
ing her reign and sovereignty there did prevail in France 
sore divisions and seditions and much civil strife. For, as 
I have heard said by a very great personage, seditions be 
oft stirred up as much for intrigues of love as by embroil- 
ments of State; and in the days of our fathers was 
current an old saw, which said that : All the world went 
mad after the merry-hearted Queen. 

I know not for sure of which Queen this word was said ; 
but it may well be 'twas pronounced by this same Comte 
Thibaut, who very like, either because he was treated ill of 
her as concerning that he was fain of, or that his love was 
scorned altogether, or another preferred before him, did 
conceive in his heart such a disgust and discontent as did 
urge him to his ruin in the wars and troubles of the time. 




So doth it often fall out when a fair and high-born Queen 
or Princess or great lady doth set her to govern a State, 
that every man doth love to serve her, and to honour and 
pay respect to her, as well for the good happiness of being 
agreeable to her and high in her favour, as to the end he 
may boast him of governing and ruling the State along 
with her, and drawing profit therefrom. I could allege 
many examples, but I had liever refrain. 

Be this as it may, this Comte Thibaut did find induce- 
ment in the fair subject I have named to write excellent 
verses, and mayhap to pose the question which M. Pas- 
quier doth cite for us. To this latter I do refer the 
curious reader, and do say naught here of rhymes good 
or ill ; for 'twould be pure waste of words so to do. 'Twill 
be enough for me at this present to declare what I think 
thereanent, whether of mine own judgment or of that of 
other more experienced lovers than I. 



[OW as to touch, it must be allowed that touch- 
ing is very delightsome, for that the perfection 
of love is to enjoy the delight thereof, and the 
said enjoyment cannot be had without touch- 
ing. For even as hunger and thirst can in no wise be 
assuaged or appeased except by eating and drinking, so too 
doth not love pass by dint either of seeing or hearing only, 
but by touching, kissing and the practice of Venus' rites. 
To this did that witty coxcomb Diogenes the Cynic allude 
facetiously, yet somewhat nastily, when he said he only 




wished he could relieve his hunger by rubbing his belly, 
even as / rot t ant la verge he did appease the paroxysm of 
desire. I would fain have put this in plainer words, but 
'tis a thing must needs be passed over trippingly. He 
was something like that lover of Lamia, who having been 
too extravagantly fleeced by her to be able to enjoy her 
love any more, could not or would not consent to lose the 
pleasure of her. Wherefore he did devise this plan: he 
would think of her, and so thinking corrupt himself, and 
in this fashion enjoy her in imagination. But she hear- 
ing of this, did summon him before the Judge to render her 
satisfaction and payment for his enjoyment. Whereupon 
the Judge did order that he should but show her the 
money, whose sound and tinkle would be payment enough, 
and she would so enjoy the gold in imagination just as 
the other in dreams and fancy had had the gratification 
of his desire. 

True, many other sorts of love may be alleged against 
what I say, the which the old philosophers do feign; but 
for these I do refer me to these same philosophers and the 
like subtle persons who will fain be discussing such points. 
In any case forasmuch as the fruit of mere earthly love 
is no other thing but enjoyment thereof, it must needs 
be deemed to be rightly attained only by dint of touching 
and kissing. So likewise have many held this pleasure 
to be but thin and poor, apart from seeing and speaking ; 
whereof we have a good example in the Cent Nouvelles 
of the Queen of Navarre. An honourable gentleman, 
having several separate times enjoyed the favours of a 
certain honourable lady, at night time and disguised with 
a small hand-mask, (for regular masks as now used were 
not yet employed), in a dark, ill-lighted gallery or pas- 




sage, albeit he was right well assured by the sense of 
touch there was nothing here but what was good, tasty 
and exquisite, yet was not content, but was fain to know 
with whom he had to do. Wherefore one day as he was 
a-kissing her and did hold her in his arms, he did make 
a mark with chalk on the back of her gown, which was of 
black velvet; and then in the evening after supper, (for 
their assignations were at a certain fixed hour), as the 
ladies were coming into the ball-room, he did place him- 
self behind the door. Thus noting them attentively as 
they passed in, he saw his own fair one enter with the 
chalk mark on her shoulder ; and lo ! it was such an one as 
he would never have dreamed of, for in mien and face and 
words she might have been taken for the very Wisdom 
of Solomon, and by that name the Queen was wont to 
describe her. 

Who then was thunderstruck? Who but the gentleman, 
by reason of his great good fortune, thus loved of a 
woman which he had deemed least like so to yield of all the 
ladies of the Court ? True it is he was fain to go further, 
and not stop at this ; for he did much desire to discover all, 
and know wherefore she was so set on hiding herself from 
him, and would lief have herself thus served under cover 
and by stealth. But she, crafty and wily as she was, did 
deny and re-deny everything, to the renunciation of her 
share in Paradise and the damnation of her immortal 
soul, as is the way of women, when we will throw in their 
faces love secrets they had rather not have known, albeit 
we be certain of the fact, and they be otherwise most 

She grew angry at his persistence ; and in this way did 
the gentleman lose his good fortune. For good it was of 




a surety, seeing the lady was a great lady and well worth 
winning. Moreover as she was for playing the sugared, 
chaste, demure prude, herein he might well have found 
double pleasure, part for the sensual enjoyment of so 
sweet, good and delicate a morsel, part that of gazing at 
her oft times in company, with her demure, coy mien, her 
cold and modest look and her conversation all chaste, 
strict and precise, thinking the while in his own mind of 
her wanton ways, her gay abandonment and naughtiness 
whenas they two were alone together. 

Thus we see the said gentleman was much at fault to 
have asked her any questions. Rather should he have 
steadily pursued his pleasure and eaten his meat in quiet, 
just as tasty without candle at all as if illuminated by 
all the lights of a festal chamber. Still he had a right 
to know who she was ! and in a way his inquisitiveness was 
praiseworthy, seeing, as the Tale doth declare, he was 
afeared he had to do with some kind of demon. For 
devils of the sort love to change shape and take the form of 
women for to have intercourse with men, and do so deceive 
them sore. However, as I have heard sundry skilled in 
magic arts declare, such do find it more easy to take on 
the shape and countenance of a woman than to imitate 
her speech. 

And this is why the said gentleman was right in wishing 
to see and know with whom he had to do ; and by what he 
said himself, 'twas her refraining altogether from speech 
that did cause him more apprehension than what he saw, 
and did set him on thinking of the Devil. And herein he 
but showed a proper fear of God. 

But surely, after having discovered all the truth, he 
should have said never a word. But, nay ! another will say 





to this, friendship and love be not perfect but when openly 
declared of heart and mouth ; and for this cause the gentle- 
man would fain have told her his passion. Anyhow he did 
gain naught thereby; but rather lost all. Moreover by 
any who had known the real honour of this gentleman, he 
will be excused, for he was in no wise so cold or so discreet 
as naturally to play this game and display such overcau- 
tion ; and by what I have heard my mother say, which was 
in the service of the Queen of Navarre, and did know sun- 
dry secrets concerning the Nouvelles, and was one of the 
devisers of this work, the hero of the Tale was my own 
uncle, the late M. de la Chastaigneraie, a man of a rough, 
ready and somewhat fickle disposition. 

The Tale is so disguised however as to carefully hide 
who it was ; for in reality the said mine Uncle was never 
in the service of the great Princess, the mistress of the 
lady in question, though he was in that of the King, her 
brother. And so he did continue, for he was much loved 
both of the King and the Princess. As for the lady, I will 
by no means tell her name ; but she was a widow and lady 
in waiting to a very great Princess, and one that was 
better at showing the part of a prude than of a Court 

I have heard tell of another Court lady under our late 
Sovereigns, and one I do know by acquaintance, who being 
enamoured of a very honourable gentleman of the Court, 
was fain to imitate the way of love adopted by the afore- 
named lady. But every time she did return from her 
assignation and rendez-vous, she would betake her to her 
chamber and there have herself examined by one of her 
maids or chamberwomen on all sides, to make sure she 
was not marked ; by the which means she did guard her- 




self from being discovered and recognized. Nor was she 
ever marked until the ninth time of meeting, when the 
mark was at once discovered and noted by her women. 
Wherefore, for dread of being brought to shame and fall- 
ing into disgrace, she did break it all off, and never after 
returned to the tryst. 

It had been better worth her while, it may be suggested, 
to have let her lover make these marks at his good pleasure, 
and then, directly they were made, have unmade and 
rubbed out the same. In this way she would have had 
double pleasure, first of the amorous delight enjoyed, 
and secondly that of making mock of her man, who was so 
keen to discover his philosopher's stone, to wit to find 
out and recognize her, yet could never succeed. 

I have heard tell of another in the days of King 
Francis in connection with that handsome Squire, Gruffy 
by name, which was a squire of the Stable under the said 
King, and died at Naples in the suite of M. de Lantric 
on his journey thither. The dame in question was a very 
great lady of the Court and did fall deep in love with 
him; for indeed he was exceedingly handsome, and was 
commonly known by no other title than the handsome 
Gruffy. I have seen the man's portrait, which doth 
certainly show him to have been so. 

She did secretly summon one day her valet of the 
chamber, in whom she had trust, but yet a man unknown 
to most by sight, into her closet. This man she did charge 
to go tell Gruffy, the messenger being handsomely dressed 
to seem to be one of her gentlemen, that a very honourable 
and fair lady did send him greeting, and that she was so 
smit with love for him she did greatly desire his acquaint- 
ance, more than that of any man at court. Yet must it 





be under this condition that for nothing in all the wide 
world must he see her or discover who she was. But at 
the hour of retiring, and when every member of the Court 
should be abed, he would come for him and meet him at a 
certain spot he would indicate, and from whence he would 
lead him to the chamber of his lady. However there was 
yet a further condition, to wit that he was to muffle his 
eyes in a fair white kerchief, like a trumpet led into an 
enemy's city at a truce, to the end he might not see nor 
recognize the place and chamber wither he was to lead 
him, and that he was to hold him by the hands all the 
time to hinder him from undoing the said kerchief. For 
such were the conditions his mistress had ordered him 
to offer, to the end she might not be known of him before 
a certain fixed and given time which he did name and ap- 
point to him. All which being so, he was to ponder it over 
and decide at leisure whether he would agree to the said 
conditions, and was to let the messenger know his answer 
the next day. For he said he would come for him then 
at a certain place he did name ; but above all he must be 
alone. And he said he would take him on so good an 
errand he would never regret having gone on the same. 

Truly an agreeable assignation, but conjoined with 
strange conditions ! I like no less that of a Spanish lady, 
which did summon one to a meeting, but with the charge 
he should bring with him thither three S.S.S., which were 
to signify sabio, solo, segreto, "prudent, alone and secret." 
The other did assure her he would come, but that she 
should adorn and furnish herself with three F.F.F., that 
is she must not be fea, flaca nor fria, "ill-favoured, slack 
nor cold." 

To return to Gruffy's story, the go-between now left 




him, having delivered his message. Who so embarrassed 
and full of thought as he? Indeed, he had much cause 
for thought, whether it were not a trick played him by 
some enemy at Court, to bring him into trouble, his 
death mayhap or at least the King's displeasure. He pon- 
dered too what lady it could be, tall, short or of middle 
stature, well or ill favoured, which last did most trouble 
him, though truly all cats be grey at night time, they say, 
and all spots alike in the dark. However, after confiding 
the matter to one of his intimate comrades, he did resolve 
to try the risk, deeming that to win the love of a great 
lady, which he did conclude her to be, he must suffer no 
fear or apprehension to stay him. Wherefore the next 
night, when the King, the Queen and her ladies, all the 
gentlemen and ladies of the Court, were retired to bed, 
he made no fail to be at the spot the messenger had 
appointed him. The latter in likewise soon came for him 
there with a companion to help him keep guard, if the 
other were followed neither by page, lackey nor gentle- 
man. The instant he saw him, he said this only, "Come, 
Sir ! the lady waits you." Then in a moment he bound his 
eyes, and did conduct him through dark, narrow places 
and unknown passages, in such wise that the other told 
him frankly he had no notion whither he was taking 
him. Thus did he introduce him to the lady's chamber, 
which was so dim and dark he could see or distinguish 
naught therein, no more than in an oven. 

Well, there he did find the lady smelling right sweet and 
richly perfumed, the which made him hope for some dainty 
treat. Whereupon the valet did straightway make him 
disrobe, and himself aided him; and next led him by the 
hand, after taking off the kerchief from his face, to the 




lady's bed, who was awaiting him with right good will. 
Then did he lay himself down beside her, and began to 
caress her, in the which he found naught but what was 
good and delicious, as well her skin as her linen and 
magnificent bed, which he did explore with his hands. So 
with right merry cheer did he spend his night with the 
fair lady. I have heard her name, but will not repeat it. 
In a word he was well and thoroughly satisfied at all 
points ; and recognized how he was excellently well lodged 
for the night. The only thing that troubled him, he said, 
was that he could never draw one single word out of her. 
She took good heed of this, seeing he was used oft times 
to speak with her by day, as with other Court ladies, and 
so would have known her voice directly. Yet at the same 
time, of frolickings and fondlings, handlings and caresses, 
and every sort of love shows and wantonness, she was most 
lavish ; and he did find his entertainment much to his mind. 

Next morning at break of day the messenger did not 
fail to come and wake him, make him get up, and dress him, 
then bind eyes as before, lead him back to the spot whence 
he had taken him, and commend him to God till his next 
return, which he promised should be soon. Nor did he omit 
to ask him if he had lied at all, and if he were not glad to 
have trusted him, and whether he thought he had showed 
himself a good quartermaster, and had found him good 

The handsome Gruffy, after thanking him an hundred 
times, bade him farewell, saying he would always be ready 
to come back again for such good entertainment, and 
would be very willing to return when he pleased. This did 
he, and the merry doings continued a whole month, at the 
end of which time it behoved Gruffy to depart on his 





Naples journey. So he took leave of his mistress and bade 
her adieu with much regret, yet without drawing one single 
word from her lips, but only sighs and the tears which 
he did note to flow from her eyes. The end was he did 
finally leave her without in the least recognizing her or 
discovering who she was. 

Since then 'tis said this lady did practice the same way 
of life with two or three others in similar fashion, in this 
manner taking her enjoyment. And some declared she 
was fain to adopt this crafty device, because that she was 
very niggardly, and in this wise did spare her substance, 
and was not liable to make gifts to her lovers. For in 
truth is every great lady bound by her honour to give, 
be it much or little, whether money or rings or jewels 
or it may be richly wrought favours. In this way the 
gallant dame was able to afford her person disport, yet 
spare her purse, merely by never revealing who she was ; 
and by this means could incur no reproof in relation to 
either of her purses, whether the natural or the artificial, 
as she did never let her identity be known. A sorry 
humour truly for a high-born dame to indulge! 

Some will doubtless find her method good, while others 
will blame her, and others again deem her a very astute 
person. Certain folk will esteem her an excellent manager 
and a wise, but for myself I do refer me to others better 
qualified to form a good judgement thereon than I. At 
any rate she can in no wise incur such severe censure as 
that notorious Queen which did dwell in the Hotel de Nesle 
at Paris. 1 This wicked woman did keep watch on the 
passers-by, and such as liked her for their looks and 
pleased her best, whatsoever sort of folk they were, she 
would have summoned to her side. Then after having 





gotten of them what she would, she did have them cast 
down from the Tower, the which is yet standing, into the 
water beneath, and so drowned them. 2 

I cannot say for sure if this be a true tale. At any rate 
the common folk, at least the most of them at Paris, do 
declare it is. And so familiar is the tale, that if one but 
point to the Tower, and ask about it, they will of their 
own accord recount the story. 

Well, let us quit these unholy loves, which be nothing 
better than sheer monstrosities. The better part of our 
ladies of to-day do abhor such, as they are surely right 
to do, preferring to have free and frank intercourse with 
their lovers and not to deal with them as though they were 
of stone or marble. Rather, having well and carefully 
chosen them, they know well how to be bravely and gener- 
ously served and loved of them. Then when they have 
thoroughly tried their fidelity and loyalty, they do give 
themselves up to an ardent love with them, and take their 
pleasure with the same not masked, nor silent, nor dumb, 
nor yet in the darkness of night and mystery. Nay ! but 
in the free and open light of day they do suffer them to 
see, touch, taste and kiss their fair bodies, entertaining 
them the while with fine, lecherous discourse, merry, 
naughty words and wanton conversation. Yet sometimes 
will they have recourse to masks ; for there be ladies which 
are at times constrained to wear them when a-doing of it, 
whether it be on account of sun-burn they do so, for fear 
of spoiling their complexion, or for other causes. Or they 
may use them to the end that, if they do get too hot in the 
work, and are suddenly surprised, their red cheeks may 
escape note, and the disorder of their countenances. I 



have known such cases. But the mask doth hide all, and 
so they befool the world. 



HAVE heard many fair ladies and cavaliers 
which have practised love declare how that, 
but for sight and speech, they had rather be 
like brute beasts, that following a mere natu- 
ral appetite of the senses, have no thought of love or 
affection, but only to satisfy their sensual rage and 
animal heat. 

Likewise have I heard many lords and gallants which 
have lain with high-born ladies say, that they have ever 
found these an hundred times more lascivious and out- 
spoken in words than common women and the like. Herein 
do they show much art, seeing it is impossible for a man, 
be he as vigorous as he may, to be alway hard at the collar 
and in full work. So when the lover cometh to lie still 
and relax his efforts, he doth find it so pleasant and so 
appetizing whenas his lady doth entertain him with 
naughty tales and words of wit and wantonness, that 
Venus, no matter how soundly put to sleep for the time 
being, is of a sudden waked up again. Nay ! more, many 
ladies, conversing with their lovers in company, whether 
in the apartments of Queens and Princesses or elsewhere, 
will strangely lure them on, for that they will be saying 
such lascivious and enticing words to them that both men 
and women will be just as wanton as in a bed together. 




Yet all the while we that be onlookers will deem their 
conversation to be of quite other matters. 

This again is the reason why Mark Antony did so 
love Cleopatra and preferred her before his own wife 
Octavia, who was an hundred times more beautiful and 
lovable than the Egyptian Queen. But this Cleopatra 
was mistress of such happy phrases and such witty con- 
versation, with such wanton ways and seductive graces, 
that Antony did forget all else for love of her. 

Plutarch doth assure us, speaking of sundry quips and 
tricks of tongue she was used to make such pretty play 
withal, that Mark Antony, when he would fain imitate 
her, was in his bearing (albeit he was only too anxious 
to play the gallant lover) like naught so much as a com- 
mon soldier or rough man-at-arms, as compared with her 
and her brilliant ways of talk. 

Pliny doth relate a story of her which I think excellent, 
and so I will repeat the same here in brief. One day, 
being in one of her wildest moods, she was attired most 
enticingly and to great advantage, and especially did wear 
on her head a garland of divers blossoms most suitable to 
provoke wanton imaginings. Well, as they sat at table, 
and Mark Antony was fain to drink, she did amuse him 
with pleasant discourse, and meanwhile all the time she 
spake, she kept plucking out one by one fair flowers 
from her garland (but they were really strewed over every 
one with poisonous essences), and tossing the same from 
time to time into the cup Antony held ready to drink 
from. Presently when she had ended her discourse and 
Mark Antony was on the point of lifting the goblet 
to his lips to drink, Cleopatra doth stay him suddenly 
with her hand, and having stationed some slave or con- 




demned criminal ready to hand, she did call this fellow 
to her and made them give him the draught Mark Antony 
was about to swallow. On drinking this he fell down dead ; 
and she turning to Antony, said, "And if I did not love 
you as I do, I should e'en now have been rid of you; 
yea! and would gladly have had it so, only that I see 
plainly I cannot live without you." These words and this 
device were well fitted to confirm Mark Antony in his 
passion, and to make him even more submissive before his 
charmer's feet. 

In such ways did her cleverness of tongue serve Cleo- 
patra, whom all the Historians do describe as having been 
exceedingly ready of speech. Mark Antony was used 
never to call her anything but "the Queen," by way of 
greater distinction. So he did write to Octavius Caesar, 
previous to the time when they were declared open enemies : 
"What hath changed you," he writes, "concerning my lov- 
ing the Queen? She is my wife. Is it but now I have 
begun the connection? You fondle Drusilla, Tortale, 
Leontiphe and a dozen others; what reck you on whom 
you do bestow your favour, when the caprice seizeth 

In this letter Mark Antony was for extolling his own 
constancy, and reproaching the other's changeableness, 
for loving so many women at once, while himself did love 
only the Queen. And I only wonder Octavius did not love 
her too after Antony's death. It may well be he had his 
pleasure when he had her come alone to his chamber, and 
he there beheld her beauty and heard her address him ; or 
mayhap he found her not so fair as he had thought, or 
scorned her for some other reason, and did wish to make 
his triumph of her at Rome and show her in his public 





procession. But this indignity she did forestall by her 
self-inflicted death. 

There can be no doubt, to return to our first point, 
that when a woman is fain after love, or is once well 
engaged therein, no orator in all the world can talk better 
than she. Consider how Sophonisba hath been described 
to us by Livy, Appian and other writers, and how eloquent 
she did show herself in Massinissa's case, when she did 
come to him for to win over and claim his love, and later 
again when it behooved to swallowed the fatal poison. In 
short, every woman, to be well loved, is bound to possess 
good powers of speech; and in very deed there be few 
known which cannot speak well and have not words 
enough to move heaven and earth, yea! though this were 
fast frozen in mid winter. 

Above all must they have this gift which devote them- 
selves to love. If they can say naught, why ! they be so 
savourless, the morsel they give us hath neither taste nor 
flavour. Now when M. du Bellay, speaking of his mistress 
and declaring her ways, in the words, 

De la vertu je S9avois deviser, 

Et je S9avois tellement eguiser, 

Que rien qu'honneur ne sortait de ma bouche ; 

Sage au parler et folastre a la couche. 

(Of virtue I knew how to discourse, and hold such fair lan- 
guage, naught but honour did issue from my mouth ; modest in 
speech, and wanton a-bed.) 

doth describe her as "modest in speech, and wanton 
a-bed," 1 this means of course in speaking before company 
and in general converse. Yet when that she is alone and 




in private with her lover, every gallant dame is ready 
enough to be free of her speech and to say what she 
chooseth, the better to provoke his passion. 

I have heard tales told by sundry that have enjoyed fair 
and high-born ladies, or that have been curious to listen 
to such talking with others a-bed, how that these were 
every whit as free and bold in their discourse as any 
courtesans they had ever known. And this is a noteworthy 
fact that, accustomed as they were so to entertain their 
husbands or lovers with lecherous and wanton words, 
phrases and discourse, and even freely to name the most 
secret parts of their bodies, and this without any dis- 
guisement, yet when the same ladies be set to polite con- 
verse, they do never go astray and not one of all these 
naughty words doth ever issue from their lips. Well, we 
can only say they are right well skilled in self-command 
and the art of dissimulation; for no other thing is there 
which is so frisky and tricksome as a lady's tongue or an 

So I once knew a very fair and honourable lady of the 
great world, who one day discoursing with an honourable 
gentleman of the Court concerning military events in 
the civil wars of the time, did say to him: "I have heard 
say the King hath had every spot in all that countryside 
broke down." Now when she did say "every spot, what 
she meant to say was every bridge" (pont) ; but, being 
just come from her husband, or mayhap thinking of her 
lover, she still had the other word fresh in her mouth. 
And this same slip of the tongue did mightily stir up the 
gentleman for her. Another lady I knew, talking with 
a certain great lady and one better born than herself, 
and praising and extolling her beauty, did presently say 




thus to her, "Nay ! Madam, what I tell you, is not to f utter 
you," meaning to say, flatter you, and did afterward 
correct herself. The fact is her mind was full of futtering 
and such like. 

In short, lively speech hath a very great efficacy in the 
game of love; and where it is lacking, the pleasure is 
incomplete. So in very truth a fair body, if it have not 
a fair mind to match, is more like a mere image of itself 
or idol than a true human body. However fair it may be, 
it must needs be seconded by a fair mind likewise, if it 
is to be really loved; and if this be not so by nature, it 
must be so fashioned by art. 

The courtesans of Rome do make great mock of the 
gentlewomen of the same city, which are not trained in 
witty speech like themselves, and do say of them that chia- 
vano come cani, ma che sono quiete della bocca come 
sassi, that is, "they yield them like bitches, but are dumb 
of mouth like sticks and stones." 

And this is why I have known many honourable gentle- 
men which have declined the acquaintance of ladies, and 
very fair ladies I tell you, because that they were simple- 
tons, without soul, wit or conversation, and have quitted 
them for good and all, saying they would as soon have to 
do with a beautiful statue of fair white marble, like that 
Athenian youth which did love a statue, and went so far 
as to take his pleasure thereof. And for the same reason 
strangers that do travel in foreign lands do seldom care 
to love foreign women, nor are at all apt to take a fancy 
to them. For they understand not what they say, and 
their words in no wise touch their hearts. I speak of 
course of such as know not their language. And if they 
do go with them, 'tis but to satisfy nature, and quench the 




mere brute flame of lust, and then andar in barca ("away 
to the ship"), as said an Italian who had come ashore one 
day at Marseilles on his way to Spain, and enquired a 
place where women were to be found. He was directed to 
a spot where a wedding feast was being held. So when a 
lady came up to accost him and engage him in conversa- 
tion, he said to her only, V. S. mi perdona, non voglio par- 
lare, voglio solamente chiavare, e poi me n'andar in barca, 
"Pardon me, Madam ; I want not to talk, but only to do, 
and then away again to the ship." 

A Frenchman doth find no great pleasure with a Ger- 
man, Swiss, Flemish, English, Scotch, Slavonian, or other 
foreign woman, albeit she should chatter with the best, if 
he understand her not. But he taketh great delight with 
his French mistress, or with an Italian or Spanish woman, 
for generally speaking the most part of Frenchmen of our 
day, at any rate such as have seen the world a little, can 
speak or understand these languages. And God wot, it 
matters not if he be skilled and meet for love, for whoso- 
ever shall have to do with a Frenchwoman, an Italian, 
Spanish or Greek, and she be quick of tongue, he must 
needs frankly own he is fairly catched and conquered. 

In former times this our French tongue was not so 
excellent and rich a language as nowadays it is ; whereas 
for many a long year the Italian, Spanish and Greek 
have been so. And I will freely own I have scarce ever seen 
a lady of these nations, if she have but practised a little 
the profession of love, but hath a very good gift of speech. 
I do refer me to them that have dealt with such women. 
Certain it is, a fair lady, if endowed with fair and witty 
words, doth afford double contentment. 





speak next of the power of sight. Without a 
doubt, seeing the eyes be the first part to join 
combat in love, it must be allowed that these 
do give a very great contentment, whenas they 
are the means to our beholding something fair and rare in 
beauty. And by my faith! what thing is there in all the 
world a man may see fairer than a fair woman, whether 
clothed and handsomely tricked out, or naked? If 
clothed, then 'tis only the face you see naked; but even 
so, when a fair body, of a beauteous shape, with fine car- 
riage and graceful port, stately look and proud mien, 
is presented to our view in all its charms, what fairer and 
more delightsome display can there be in all the world? 
Then again, when you come to enjoy a fair lady, thus 
fully dressed and magnificently attired, the desire and 
enjoyment of her are doubled, albeit a man doth see only 
the face, while all the other parts of the body are hid. 
For indeed 'tis a hard matter to enjoy a great lady ac- 
cording to all the conveniences one might desire, unless it 
were in a chamber apart at full leisure and in a secret 
place, to do what one best liketh. So spied upon is such 
an one of all observers! 

And this is why a certain great lady I have heard speak 
of, if ever she did meet her lover conveniently, and out of 
sight of other folk and fear of surprise, would always 
seize the occasion at once, to content her wishes as 




promptly and shortly as ever she could. And indeed she 
did say to him one day, "They were fools, those good 
ladies of former days, which being fain of over refinement 
in their love pleasure, would shut themselves up in their 
closets or other privy places, and there would so draw 
out their sports and pastimes that presently they would be 
discovered and their shame made public. Nowadays must 
we seize opportunity whenever it cometh, with the briefest 
delay possible, like a city no sooner assailed than invested 
and straightway captured. And in this wise we do best 
avoid the chance of scandal." 

And I ween the lady was quite right; for such men as 
have practised love, have ever held this a sound maxim 
that there is naught to be compared with a woman in 
her clothes. Again when you reflect how a man doth 
brave, rumple, squeeze and make light of his lady's 
finery, and how he doth work ruin and loss to the grand 
cloth of gold and web of silver, to tinsel and silken stuffs, 
pearls and precious stones, 'tis plain how his ardour and 
satisfaction be increased manifold, far more than with 
some simple shepherdess or other woman of like quality, 
be she as fair as she may. 

And why of yore was Venus found so fair and so 
desirable, if not that with all her beauty she was alway 
gracefully attired likewise, and generally scented, that 
she did ever smell sweet an hundred paces away? For it 
hath ever been held of all how that perfumes be a great 
incitement to love. 

This is the reason why the Empresses and great dames 
of Rome did make much usage of these perfumes, as do 
likewise our great ladies of France, and above all those 
of Spain and Italy, which from the oldest times have been 





more curious and more exquisite in luxury than French- 
women, as well in perfumes as in costumes and magnificent 
attire, whereof the fair ones of France have since bor- 
rowed the patterns and copied the dainty workmanship. 
Moreover the others, Italian and Spanish, had learned the 
same from old models and ancient statues of Roman ladies, 
the which are to be seen among sundry other antiquities 
yet extant in Spain and Italy ; the which, if any man will 
regard them carefully, will be found very perfect in mode 
of hair-dressing and fashion of robes, and very meet to 
incite love. On the contrary, at this present day our 
ladies of France do surpass all others. 'Tis to the Queen 
of Navarre * they do owe thanks for this great improve- 

Wherefore is it good and desirable to have to do with 
suchlike fair ladies so well appointed, so richly tricked out 
and in such stately wise. So have I heard many courtiers, 
my comrades, declare, as we did discourse together on 
these matters, 

De sorte que j'ai out dire a aucuns courtisans, mes com- 
pagnons, ainsi que nous decisions ensemble, qu'ils les aimai- 
ent mieux ainsi, que desacoutrees et couchees neus entre 
deux linceuls, et dans un lit le plus enrichi de broderie 
que Von sut faire. 

D'autres disaient qu'il n't/ avait que le naturel, sans 
aucun fard ni artifice, comme un grand prince que je 
sais, lequel pourtant faisait coucher ses courtisanes ou 
dames dans des draps de taffetas noir bien tendus, toutes 
nues, afin que leur blancheur et delicatesse de chair parut 
bien mieux parmi ce noir et donndt plus d'ebat. 2 

There can be no real doubt the fairest sight of any in 
the whole world would be that of a beautiful woman, all 




complete and perfect in her loveliness ; but such an one 
is ill to find. Thus do we find it recorded of Zeuxis, the 
famous painter, how that being asked by sundry honour- 
able ladies and damsels of his acquaintance to make them 
a portrait of the fair Helen of Troy and depict her to 
them as beautiful as folk say she was, he was loath to 
refuse their prayer. But, before painting the portrait, 
he did gaze at them all and each steadfastly, and choosing 
from one or the other whatever he did find in each severally 
most beautiful, he did make out the portrait of these frag- 
ments brought together and combined, and by this means 
did portray Helen so beautiful no exception could be taken 
to any feature. This portrait did stir the admiration of 
all, but above all of them which had by their several beau- 
ties and separate features helped to create the same no 
less thans Zeuxis himself had with his brush. Now this was 
as good as saying that in one Helen 'twas impossible to 
find all perfections of beauty combined, albeit she may 
have been most exceeding fair above all women. 

Be this as it may, the Spaniard saith that to make a 
woman all perfect, complete and absolute in loveliness, 
she must needs have thirty several beauties, 8 the which a 
Spanish lady did once enumerate to me at Toledo, a city 
where be very fair and charming women, and well in- 
structed to boot. The thirty then are as f olloweth : 

(Translated, for the reader's better comprehension:) 
Three things white: skin, teeth and hands. 
Three black: eyes, brows and lids. 
Three red: lips, cheeks and nails. 
Three long: body, hair and hands. 
Three short: teeth, ears and feet. 





Three wide: chest or bosom, forehead and space be- 
twixt the eyes. 

Three narrow: mouth (upper and lower), girth or 
waist, and ankle. 

Three big and thick: arm, thigh and calf. 

Three long and fine: fingers, hair and lips. 

Three small and delicate: breasts, nose and head. 

Making thirty in all. 

'Tis not inconceivable nor impossible but that all these 
beauties should be united all together in one and the same 
fair lady ; but in that case she must needs be framed in the 
mould of absolute perfection. For indeed to see them all 
so combined, without there being a single one to carp at 
and find at fault is scarce possible. I do refer me to such 
as have seen beautiful women, or will see such anon, and 
who would fain be heedful in noting the same and apprais- 
ing them, what they shall say of them. But though they 
be not complete and perfectly beautiful in all these points, 
yet will a beautiful woman alway be beautiful, an if she 
have but the half, and those the chief ones, of the parts 
and features I have named. For truly I have seen many 
which had more than the half, and were exceeding fair 
and very lovable. Just as a wood seemeth ever beautiful 
in Spring-tide, even though it be not filled with all the little 
pretty shrubs one might wish for. Yet are there plenty 
of fine, tall, spreading trees, which by their abundance 
may very well hide the lack of other smaller vegetation. 

M. de Ronsard must pardon me, if he will. Never did 
his mistress, whom he hath represented as so very beauti- 
ful, really attain such perfection, nor any other lady he 
ever saw in his day or did describe. He calleth her his 



fair Cassandra, and sure I am she was fair, but he hath 
disguised her under a fictitious name. And the same is 
equally true of his Marie, who never bore other name but 
that, as it is of the first mentioned. Still it is allowed to 
poets and painters to say and do what pleaseth them, 
for instance you will find in the Orlando Furioso won- 
drous fair beauties portrayed by Ariosto, those of Alcina 
and of many another fair one. 

All this is well enough; but as I have heard a great 
personage of my acquaintance say, never could plain 
nature make so fair and perfect a woman as the keen 
and subtile imagination of some eloquent poet might 
featly describe, or the pencil and brush of some inspired 
painter represent. No matter ! a man's eyes are ever satis- 
fied to see a beautiful woman of fair, clear-complexioned 
and well-featured face. Yea! and though it be somewhat 
brown of hue, 'tis all one; the brunette is as good as the 
blonde many a time, as the Spanish girl hath it, Aunqite 
to sia morisca, no soy de menos preciar, "Brown though 
I be, I am not to be scorned for that." So the fair Marfisa 
era brunetta alquanto "was something brown of face." 
Still must not the brown overset the white too much! 
Again, a beautiful countenance must be borne by a body 
fashioned and built to correspond. This doth hold good 
of little as well as big, but tall stature will ever take first 

Well, as to seeking out suchlike exquisite points of 
beauty as I have just spoke of, and as poets have of old 
depicted, this we may very well dispense with, and find 
pleasure enough in our common and everyday beauties. 
Not that I would say common in any ill sense, for verily we 
have some so rare that, by my faith! they be better far 




than all those which your fantastic poets, and whimsical 
painters, and lyrical extollers of female charms could 
ever delineate. 

Alas ! the worst of it is this. Whenas we do see suchlike 
fair beauties and gracious countenances, we do admire and 
long for the fair bodies to match, for the love of the pretty 
faces. But lo ! in some cases, when these come to be re- 
vealed and brought to light, we do lose all appetite 
therefor. They be so ugly, spoiled, blotched, disfigured 
and hideous, they do give the lie direct to the face. This 
is one of the ways we men are oft sore taken in. 

Hereof we have a good example in a certain gentleman 
of the Island of Majorca, by name Raymond Lulle, 4 of a 
very good, wealthy and ancient family. This nobleman 
by reason of his high birth, his valour and merit, was 
appointed in the prime of his years to the governorship 
of the said island. While in this office, as will oft happen 
to Governors of provinces and cities, he did grow enam- 
oured of a beautiful lady of the island, one of the most 
accomplished, beautiful and ready-witted women of those 
parts. Long and eagerly did he court her ; and at length, 
seeing he was ever demanding the reward of his exertions, 
the lady after refusing as long as ever she could, did one 
day give him an assignation. This he did not fail to keep, 
nor did she ; but presently appeared thereat, more beauti- 
ful than ever and more richly apparelled. Then just as 
he thought the gates of Paradise were opening for him, 
lo! she stepped forward and did show him her breast 
and bosom all covered over with a dozen plasters, and 
tearing these off one after other and angrily tossing 
them to the ground, did exhibit a horrid cancer to him. 
So with tears in her eyes, she did rehearse all her wretch- 





edness and her affection to him, and asked him, was there 
then such mighty cause why he should be so much enam- 
oured of her, making him so sad and dismal a discourse, 
that he did presently leave her, all overcome with ruth 
for the grief of this fair lady. Then later, after making 
supplication to God for her restoration to health, he did 
give up his office, and turned hermit. 

Afterward, on returning from the Holy Wars, to the 
which he had vowed himself, he went to study at Paris 
under Arnaldus de Villanova, a learned philosopher ; then 
after finishing his course there, he did withdraw into 
England, where the King of that day did welcome him 
with all the good will in the world for the sake of his deep 
learning, and seeing he did transmute sundry ingots and 
bars of iron, copper and tin, scorning the common, trivial 
fashion of transmuting lead and iron into gold. For he 
knew how more than one of his contemporaries could do 
this much as well as he, whereas he had skill to do both 
this and the other as well. But he was fain to perform a, 
feat above the capacity of the rest of alchemists. 

I have this tale from a gallant gentleman, which told me 
himself had it of the jurisconsult Oldrade. This author 
doth speak of Raymond Lulle in the Commentary he made 
on the Code De Falsa Moneta ("On False Coining"). 
Likewise he had it, so he said, on the authority of Carolus 
Bovillus, 6 a native of Picardy, who hath writ in Latin a 
life of this same Raymond Lulle. 

This is how he did rid himself of his craving for the love 
of this fair lady. Other men, 'tis very like, had done dif- 
ferently, and would not have ceased to love, but shutting 
their eyes would e'en have taken what they did desire 
of her. This he might well enough have done, had he been 



so minded, seeing the part he did aim at was in no wise 
touched by any such disease. 

I knew once a gentleman and a widow lady of the great 
world, which were not so scrupulous. For though the 
lady was afflicted with a great and foul cancer of the 
breast, yet he did not hesitate to wed her, nor she to take 
him, contrary to her mother's advice. 

I knew likewise a very honourable gentleman, and a 
great friend of mine, who told me that one time being at 
Rome, he did chance to love a certain Spanish lady, one 
of the fairest was ever seen in that city. Now when he did 
go with her, she would never suffer him to see her, nor 
ever to touch her, but only with her clothes on. For, 
if ever he was for touching her, she would cry out in 
Spanish, Ah! no me tocays, hareis me quosquillas, that is 
to say, "Nay ! do not touch me ; you tickle me." But one 
morning, passing by her house and finding the door open, 
he goes boldly in. So having entered, without meeting 
either domestic, page or any living soul, he did penetrate 
to her bedchamber, and there found her so fast asleep 
he had leisure to behold and examine her at his ease, for 
that it was very hot weather. And he declared he did 
never see aught so fair as was her body, excepting only 
that he did discover how that, while the one thigh was 
fair, white, smooth and well-shapen, the other was all 
dried up, withered and shrunken, so that it looked no 
bigger than a young child's arm. Who so astonished as 
my friend? Who yet did not much compassionate her, 
and never after returned to visit her, nor had any sub- 
sequent dealings with her. 

Many ladies there be which are not indeed thus shrunken 
by disease, yet are so thin, scraggy, withered and fleshless 


8?Wflff i rfSftffi7Wtf5ai^^ 



they can show naught but the mere skeleton oi a woman. 
Thus did I know one, a very great lady, of whom the 
Bishop of Sisteron, 6 one of the witties men at Court, did 
by way of jest and gibe declare that it were better to 
sleep with a rat-trap of brass-wire than with her. In a 
like strain did another gentleman of the Court, when we 
were rallying him on having dealings with a certain great 
lady, reply, "Nay! but you are all wrong, for indeed I 
do love good flesh too well, and she hath naught but 
bones." Yet to look at these two ladies, so fair and 
beauteous of face, you would have supposed them both 
most fleshy and right dainty morsels. 

A very high-born Prince of the great world did chance 
once to be in love with two very fair ladies at one and the 
same time, as doth often happen to the great, which do 
love change and variety. The one was exceeding fair, 
the other a brunette, but both the twain right handsome 
and most lovable women. So one day as he came away 
from visiting the dark one, her fair rival being jealous 
did say to him : "Ah, ha ! so you've been flying for crow !" 
Whereto the Prince did make answer, something angered 
and ruffled at the word: "And when I am with you, my 
lady, what am I flying for then?" The lady straight 
made answer : "Why ! for a phanix, to be sure !" But the 
Prince, who had as ready a tongue as most, did retort: 
"Nay! say rather for a bird of Paradise, the which hath 
ever more feathers than flesh"; casting up at her by this 
word how that she was rather thin and meagre. The fact 
is she was too young a thing to be very fat, stoutness 
commonly coming only upon such women as are getting 
on in years, at the time when they do begin to lay on 
flesh and get bigger in limbs and all bodily parts. 




A certain gentleman did make a good reply to a great 
Lord I wot of. Both had handsome wives. The great 
Lord in question found the gentleman much to his taste, 
and most enticing. So one day he said to him, "Sir! I 
must e'en sleep with your wife." To this the gentleman, 
without a thought, for he was very ready of tongue, did 
answer, "I am willing enough, but on condition I sleep 
with yours." The Lord replied, "Why! what would you 
be at? I tell you, mine is so thin, you would not find her 
to your taste at all." To this the gentleman did retort, 
"Yea ! by my faith ! je la larderai si menu que je la rendrai 
de bon gout." 

Many women there be whose pretty, chubby faces make 
men fain to enjoy them yet when they do come to it, 
they find them so fleshless the pleasure and temptation be 
right soon done away. Among other defects, we do often 
find the gridiron form, as it called, the bones so prominent 
and fleshless they do press and chafe a man as sorely as 
though he had a mule's packsaddle on him. To remedy 
this, there be some dames are used to employ little cushions 
or pads, very soft and very delicately made, to bear the 
brunt and avoid chafing. I have heard speak of many 
which have used these in such wise that lovers not in 
the secret, when they do come to them, find naught but 
what is good to touch, and are quite persuaded 'tis their 
mistress's natural plumpness. For above the satin, they 
will wear thin, loose, white muslin. In this way the lover 
would leave the lady well pleased and satisfied, and him- 
self deem her a right good mistress. 

Other women again there be which have the skin all 
veined and marked like marble, or like mosaic work, dap- 
pled like a fawn's coat, itchy and subject to sores and 





farcies ; in a word so foul and disfigured the sight thereof 
is very far from pleasant. 

I have heard speak of a certain great lady, and I have 
known her myself and do know her still, who is all shaggy 
and hairy over the chest, stomach, shoulders and all down 
the spine, like a savage. I leave you to imagine the effect. 
The proverb hath it, no person thus hairy is ever rich or 
wanton; but verily in this case the lady is both the one 
and the other, I can assure you, and is well able to win 
admirers, to please their eye and gain their love. 

Others' skin is like goose flesh or like a feathered star- 
ling, all rugged and cross-grained, and black as the devil. 
Others are blessed with great dangling bosoms, hanging 
down worse than a cow's giving its calf milk. Very sure 
am I these be not the fair breasts of Helen, who one day 
desiring to present to the Temple of Diana an elegant 
cup in fulfilment of a vow, and employing a goldsmith to 
make it for her, did cause him to model the same on one 
of her lovely breasts. He did make the goblet of white 
gold and in such wise that folk knew not which to admire 
the most, the cup itself or its resemblance to the beautiful 
bosom which he had taken for his pattern. It looked so 
round and sweet and plump, the copy only made men the 
more to desire the real thing. Pliny doth make especial 
mention thereof, in the place where he treateth of the ex- 
istence of white gold. 'Tis very strange, but of white gold 
was this goblet made. 

But who, I should like to know, would care to model 
golden cups on the great ugly breasts I speak of and have 
seen. We should be bound to give the goldsmith a big 
supply of gold, and then all our expense would but end 
in laughter and mockery, when we should cry, "Look ! see 





our cup wrought on the model of so and so's breasts." 
Indeed they would not so much be like drinking cups at 
all as those great wooden puncheons, round and big-bel- 
lied, we see used for feeding swine withal. 

Others there be the nipples of whose breasts are for all 
the world like a rotten pear. Others again whose bodies 
are all rough and wrinkled, that you would take them for 
old leathern game-bags, such as troopers and innkeepers 
carry. This cometh to women which have borne children, 
but who have not been properly seen to by the midwives. 
On the contrary there be others which have the same sweet 
and smooth and polished, and their bosom as plump and 

pretty as if they were still maids. 


Other women there be have their parts so pale and 
wan you would say they had the fever. Such do resemble 
some drunkards, which though they do drink more 
wine than a sucking pig, are yet always as pale as 
the dead. Wherefore do men call them traitors to their 
wine, as in contrast with such tipplers as are rosy-faced. 
In like fashion women that are pale in this region might 
very well be spoke of as traitors to Venus, were it not for 
the proverb which saith, "a pale whore and a red-faced 
scamp." Be this as it may, there is no doubt their being 
pale and wan is not agreeable to see ; and is very far from 
resembling that of one of the fairest ladies of our time, 
and one that doth hold high rank (and myself have seen 
her), who they used to say did commonly sport three fine 
colours all together, to wit scarlet, white and black. 
For her mouth was brilliant and as red as coral, her hair 
pretty and curly and as black as ebony. So should it 
ever be, for indeed this is one of the chiefest beauties of 






a woman. Then the skin was white as alabaster, and was 
finely shadowed by this dark hair. A fair sight in truth ! 

I have heard Madame de Fontaine-Chalandray, known 
as the fair Torcy, relate how that her Mistress, Queen 
Eleanor, being robed and dressed, did appear a very 
beauteous Princess, and indeed there be many which have 
seen her looking so at our King's Court, and of a good 
noble figure. But being stripped, she did seem a very 
giantess in body, so long was it and big; whereas going 
lower down, she seemed but a dwarf, so short and small 
were her thighs and legs and all those parts. 

Another great lady I have heard speak of was just the 
opposite. For whereas in body she looked a dwarf, so 
short and diminutive was it, for the rest down below she 
was a perfect giantess or colossus, so big, long and high- 
forked were her thighs and legs, though at the same time 
well-proportioned and fleshy. 

There be many husbands and lovers among us Chris- 
tians which do desire to be in all respects different from 
the Turks, which last take no pleasure in looking at wom- 
en closely, because they say, as I have stated above, they 
have no shape. We Christians on the other hand do find, 
'tis said, great contentment in regarding them carefully 
and do delight in such. Nay ! not only do men enjoy seeing 
them, but likewise in kissing, and many ladies have shown 
their lovers the way. Thus a Spanish lady did reply to 
her lover on his quitting her one day with the words, 
Bezo las manos y los pies, Senora; Senor, en el medio esta 
la me j ore st acton. 

Other women have their thighs so ill proportioned, so 
unattractive looking and so badly made that they deserve 
not to be regarded or desired at all ; and the same is true 




of their legs, which in some be so stout and heavy you 
would say the thick part thereof was a rabbit's belly when 
it is with young. In others again they be so thin and tiny 
and so like a stork's shanks, you might well deem them 
flute pipes rather than a woman's thighs and legs. What 
the rest is like, I will e'en leave you to imagine ! 

If I were to detail all the other beauties and deformities 
women are subject to, truly I should never have done. 
Now all I do say hereanent, or might say, is never of low- 
born or common women, but always of high-born, or at 
least well-born, ladies, which by their fairness of face do 
set the world on fire, but what of their person is hid doth 
but ill correspond. 


|T is no long while agone since in a certain dis- 
trict of Guyenne a married dame, of very 
good station and descent, had a strange ad- 
venture. As she was overlooking her chil- 
dren's studies, lo ! their tutor, by some madness or frenzy 
of the brain, or maybe from a fierce access of love that 
did suddenly master him, did take a sword belonging to 
her husband and which lay on the bed, and did assail her 
so furiously as that he did transpierce her two thighs 
and her two labia from the one part to the other. Whereof 
she did after all but die, and would have right out but for 
the help of an excellent surgeon. She might well say of 
her poor body how that it had been in two divers wars 
and assailed in two different ways. The sight thereof 
afterward was, I imagine, scarce agreeable, seeing it was 
so scarred and its wings so torn. I say wings, for while 




the Greeks do call these labia hymenaea, the Latins name 
the same alae (wings), the moderns labia, or lips, and 
sundry other names. For truly there is no beast or bird, 
be it falcon, raw and untrained, like that of our young 
girls, or hawk, whether haggard or well practised, as of 
our married women and widows, that doth go more nimbly 
or hath the wing so active. 

Other women, for dread of colds and catarrhs, do 
smother themselves in bed with cape and mufflers about 
the head, till upon my word they do look more like old 
witches than young women. Yet once out of bed, they 
are as smart as dolls. Others again be all rouged and 
painted up like images, fine enough by day; but a-nights 
the paint is off, and they are as ugly as sin. 

It were well to examine suchlike dames before loving, 
marrying and enjoying the same, as Octavius Caesar was 
used to do. For along with his friends he did have sundry 
great ladies and Roman matrons stripped naked, and 
even vigins of marriageable age, and did examine them 
from head to foot, as if they had been slave-women and 
purchased serfs. The said examination was carried out by 
a certain horse-jockey or dealer by name Toranus, and 
according as this man did approve and find them to his 
liking, and unspoiled, would the Emperor take his pleas- 
ure with them. 

This is precisely what the Turks do in their slave-mar- 
ket at Constantinople and other great towns, when they 
buy slaves, whether male or female. 

Well ! I will say no more of all this ; indeed methinks I 
have already said over much. So this is how we be sore 
deceived in many sights we at the first imagine and believe 
very admirable. But if we be thus deceived in some good 





ladies, no less are we edified and well satisfied in other 
some, the which are so fair and sweet and clean, so fresh 
and plump, so lovable and desirable, in one word so per- 
fect in all their bodily parts, that after them all sights in 
this world are but mean and empty. Whence it cometh 
there be men, which at such a sight do so lose their wits 
they must at once to work. Moreover 'tis often the case 
that such fair dames do find pleasure in showing their 
persons and do make no difficulty so to do, knowing them- 
selves as they do without spot or blemish, to the end they 
may the better rouse temptation and concupiscence in 
our manly bosoms. 

One day when we were together at the siege of La Ro- 
chelle, the late unfortunate Due de Guise, 1 which did me 
the honour to hold me in affection, did come and show 
me some tables he had just filched from Monsieur the 
King's brother, 2 our General in that enterprise, from out 
the pocket of his breeches, and said thus: "Monsieur 
hath done me a displeasure and mocked me concerning 
my love for a certain lady. Well I would fain now take 
my revenge; look at these tables of his, and read what I 
have writ therein." With this he did hand me the tables, 
and I saw writ therein in his hand these four verses fol- 
lowing, which he had just made up, only that the word 
was set down outright in the first line: 

Si vous ne m'avez congeue, 
II n'a pas term a moy; 
Car vous m'avez bien vue nue, 
Et vous ay monstre de quoy. 

(If you have not known me, this is no fault of mine. For 
indeed you have seen me naked, and I have shown you all you 




After, he did tell me the lady's name, an unmarried 
girl to say truth, which I did already suspect. I said I 
was greatly surprised the Prince had never touched or 
known her, seeing his opportunities had been very ample, 
and he was credited by common report with being her 
lover. But he did answer, 'twas not so, and that it was 
solely by his own fault. To which I replied, "Then it 
must needs, my Lord, have been, either that at the time he 
was so weary and so sated in other quarters he was unable 
to bear the brunt, or else that he was so entranced with 
the contemplation of her naked charms that he did give 
never a thought to the active part." "Well ! it may be," 
the Prince answered, "he was good to do it; but anyhow 
this time he failed to take his opportunity. So I am 
having my fun of him, and I am going to put his tables 
back in his pocket, which he will presently examine, as is 
his wont, and must needs read what I have writ. And so 
I have my revenge." This he did, and never after did they 
twain meet without having a good laugh over it, and a 
merry passage of arms. For at that period was great 
friendship and intimacy betwixt these two, though after 
so strangely altered. 

A lady of the great world, or to speak strictly a young 
maid, was held in much love and close intimacy by a cer- 
tain great Princess. The latter was one time in her bed, 
resting, as was her wont, when a gentleman did come to 
see the damsel, one which was deep in love with her, albeit 
he had naught at all but his love to aid his suit. Then 
the fair lady, being so well loved and on such intimate 
terms with her Mistress the Princess, did come to her as 
she lay, and nimbly, without any warning whatsoever, did 
suddenly drag away all the coverings from off her, in 



such wise that the gentleman, by no means slow to use 
his eyes, did instantly cast them on her, and beheld, as 
he did tell me the tale afterward, the fairest sight ever he 
saw or is like to see, her beautiful body, and all her 
lovely, white, exquisite person, that did make him think 
he was gazing on the beauties of Paradise. But this 
scarce lasted an instant; for the moment the bed-clothes 
were thrown off, the lady did snatch back the same, the 
girl having meanwhile run off. Yet as luck would have 
it, the more the fair lady did struggle to pull back the 
coverings, the more she did display her charms. This in 
no wise spoiled the sight and the pleasure the gentleman 
had therein, who you may be sure did not put himself 
about to help her, he had been a fool so to do. How- 
ever, presently in one way or another she did get her 
coverings over her again as before, chiding her favourite, 
but gently withal, and telling her she should pay for her 
pranks. The damsel, who had slipped away a little out 
of her reach, did only reply, "Madam, you did play me a 
trick a while agone; forgive me if that I have paid you 
back in your own coin." And so saying, through the 
chamber-door and away! But peace was not long 

Meanwhile the gentleman was so content with what he 
had seen, and so full of ecstasy, delight and satisfaction, 
I have heard him declare an hundred times over he did 
wish for naught else his life long but only to live and 
dream of this fair sight day by day. And in sooth he 
was right for to judge by the fair face that is without a 
rival and the beauteous bosom that hath so ravished man- 
kind, there must indeed have been yet more exquisite 
dainties. And he did affirm that among these charms, the 



llSfllSaiSf.'ISillSSlSatV' ' '* ' ' :' ' . 

said lady did possess the finest figure, and the best devel- 
oped, ever he did set eyes on. And it may well be so, for 
she was of a very rich and opulent figure, and this must 
needs be one of the chief of all a woman's beauties, and 
like a frontier fortress, one of the most necessary and 

When the said gentleman had told me all his tale, I 
could only bid him, "Live on, my friend, live on ; with this 
divine sight to dream on and this happy contemplation, 
you should never die. And heaven grant me before I die, 
at least to see so fair a spectacle!" 

The said gentleman did surely owe an eternal debt of 
gratitude to the damsel, and did ever after honour and 
love her with all his heart. And he did woo her right 
eagerly as lover, yet married her not at the last; for 
another suitor, richer than he, did carry her off, for truly 
'tis the way of all women to run after the solid good things 
of life. 

Sights like this be fair and right pleasant ; yet must we 
beware they work not harm, as the view of the beauteous 
Diana in her nakedness did to poor Acteon, or yet another 
I am about to tell of. 

A great King did in his day love fondly a very beauti- 
ful, honourable and great lady, a widow, so that men did 
esteem him bewitched of her charms. For little did he 
reck of other women, or even of his wife, except only now 
and again, for this fair lady did always have the pick of 
the flowers of his garden. This did sorely grieve the 
Queen, for she knew herself as fair and lovable, as well 
deserving of loyal service and as worthy to enjoy such 
dainty morsels as the other. All this did both anger and 
surprise her much; wherefore having made her moan to 




a great lady which was her chief favourite, she did plot 
with her and contrive if there were no way whereby she 
might e'en spy through some peep-hole the game her hus- 
band and the lady should play together. And accord- 
ingly she did contrive to make sundry holes in the ceiling 
of the said lady's chamber, for to see it all and the life 
they twain should lead with one another. So they did 
set them to view the sight; yet beheld naught but what 
was fair to see, for they did behold only a most beauteous, 
white and delicately made woman, tender and sweet, half 
muffled in her shift, entertaining of her lover with pretty, 
dainty caresses and most tricksome pranks, and her lover 
performing the like to her. Then presently the twain 
would lie and frolic together on the thick, soft carpet 
which was by the bed-side, so to escape the heat and the 
better to enjoy the cool. For it was then at the hottest 
of the year; and myself have also known another very 
great Prince which was used to take his amusement with 
his wife in this fashion, to avoid the heat brought on by 
the great warmth of the summer season, as himself did 

The unhappy Queen then, having seen and observed it 
all, did of very despite set to and weep, sob, sigh and 
make sore moan, thinking, and saying too, how that her 
husband did never the like with her, nor ever went through 
suchlike amorous follies as she had seen him perform with 
his mistress. 

The other lady, which was with her, did what she could 
for to comfort her, and chided her for making so sad a 
moan, saying what was true enough, that as she had been 
so curious as to spy out such doings, she could scarce 
have expected else. To this the Queen did make no other 



answer but only this, "Alas ! yes, I was wilful, and fain to 
see a thing I should never have beheld, for verily the sight 
thereof did hurt me very sore!" Natheless did she find 
some comfort anon and resolution of mind, and did leave 
off sorrowing. 

I have heard yet another story of an honourable 
lady who when a girl was whipped by her mother 
twice every day, not that she had done aught wrong, but 
because, as she supposed, her mother did find a pleasure 
in seeing her so wriggle. 

I have heard even a worse thing of a great Lord and 
Prince, more than eighty years agone, how that before 
going to cohabit with his wife, he was used to have him- 
self whipped, not being able to be moved nor to do any- 
thing without this ridiculous remedy. I should greatly 
like some competent physician to tell me the reason 

That great and distinguished author, Pico della Miran- 
dola, 3 doth declare himself to have seen a gallant of his 
day, who the more he was thrashed with heavy blows of a 
stirrup-leather, the more was he thereby fierce after wom- 
en. Never was he so valiant with them as after he had 
been so leathered, though \vhen it was once well done, he 
was as fierce as any man. Truly here be some strange 
and terrible caprices ! At any rate to see others whipped 
is a more agreeable sort of humour than this last ! 




|HEN I was at Milan, I was one day told a 
diverting tale, how the late Marquis de Pcs- 
caire, 1 dead no long while agone, erst Viceroy 
of Sicily, did fall deeply in love with a very 
fair lady. And so one morning, believing her husband 
was gone abroad, he set forth to visit her, finding her 
still a-bed ; but in conversation with her, he did win 
naught else but only to see her, gaze at her under the 
clothes at his leisure, and touch her with his hand. While 
this was a-doing, lo ! the husband did appear, a man which 
was not of the high consideration of the Marquis in any 
respect, and did surprise them in such sort that the Mar- 
quis had no time to get back his glove, the which was lost 
some way or another among the sheets, as doth frequently 
happen. Presently, after exchanging a few words with 
him, he did leave the chamber, conducted to the door by 
the husband. The latter on returning did, as chance 
would have it, discover the Marquis's glove lost among the 
sheets, the lady not having noticed the same. This he 
did take and lock up, and after, putting on a cold de- 
meanour toward his wife, did long remain without sleep- 
ing with her or touching her at all. Wherefore one day 
she being alone in her chamber, did set hand to pen and 
write this quatrain following: 

Vigna era, vigna son. 
Era podata, or piu non son; 
E non so per qual cagion 
Non mi poda il mio patron. 




So leaving these verses writ out on the table, anon the 
husband came and saw the lines; and so taketh pen and 
doth thus reply: 

Vigna eri, vigna sei, 
Eri podata, e piu non sei. 
Per la granfa del Icon, 
Non ti poda il tuo patron. 

These he did leave likewise on the table. The whole 
was carried to the Marquis, who made answer : 

A la vigna chez voi dite 

lo fui, e qui restai; 

Alzai il pampano; guardai la vite; 

Ma, se Dio m'ajuti, non toccai. 

This in turn was shown to the husband, who satisfied 
with so honourable a reply and fair apology, did take his 
vine to him again, and did cultivate the same as indus- 
triously as heretofore; and never were husband and wife 
happier together. 

I will now translate the verses from the Italian, that all 
may follow the sense : 

"I was a vine, and am so still. I was well cultivated ; but 
am so no more. And I know not for what cause my mas- 
ter doth not now cultivate me as before." 


"A vine thou wert, and art so still; thou wert well 
cultivated, and art so no more. Because of the lion's 
claw, for this cause thy master doth not now cultivate 
thee as before." 





"The vine you both do speak of I visited 'tis true, and 
tarried a space. I lifted the cluster, and looked at the 
grape; but, so God help me, touched not at all." 

By the "lion's claw" the husband meaneth to signify 
the glove he had found lost between the sheets. 

A good husband this, which did not take umbrage over- 
much, and putting away his suspicions, did thus forgive 
his wife. And there is no doubt there be ladies which do 
take such a delight in themselves they do love to see 
themselves naked and gaze at their own beauty, in such 
wise that they are filled with ravishment beholding them- 
selves so lovely, like Narcissus. What then, I ask, is it 
like we men should do, whenas we do see and gaze at the 
same ? 

Mariamn, the wife of Herod, 2 a fair and honourable 
lady, when that one day her husband was fain to sleep 
with her at full midday, and see openly all her charms, 
did refuse flatly, so Josephus doth record. Nor did he 
insist on his rights as a husband, as did a great Lord I 
knew once with his wife, one of the fairest of the fair, 
whom he did enjoy thus in open day, and did strip her 
stark naked, she protesting stoutly the while. After, he 
did send her women to her to dress her again, who did 
find her all in tears and filled with shame. Other dames 
on the contrary there be which do make no set scruples 
of the sort at making display of their beauty and showing 
themselves thus, the better to stir their lovers' passion 
and caprice, and draw them the more fondly to them. 
Yet will they in no wise suffer them to enjoy their most 
precious favour. Some indeed, ill liking to halt on so 





pleasant a road, soon go further ; but others there be, I 
have heard tell of not a few such, which have long time 
entertained their lovers with such fair sights, and no 

Happy they which have patience so to bide their time, 
without yielding overmuch to temptation. Yet must the 
man be fair bewitched of virtue who seeing a beautiful 
woman, doth give his eyes no gratification. So was Alex- 
ander the Great used to say at whiles to his friends how 
that the Persian maids did much hurt the eyes of such as 
did gaze at them. And for this cause, when he held pris- 
oners the daughters of King Darius, he would never greet 
them but with downcast eyes, and likewise as seldom as 
ever he could, for fear he should have been overcome by 
the excellence of their beauty. 

Not in those times only, but likewise in our own days, 
among all the women of the East, the Persian fair ones 
do bear the bell and prize of beauty, and fine proportion 
of bodily parts, and natural charm, as well as of becom- 
ing grace and fitness in dress and foot-gear and above 
all others, they of the ancient and royal city of Shiraz. 8 
These last be so commended for their beauty, fair skin, 
civility of manners and sweet grace, that the Moors do 
say in an old and well-known proverb, how that their 
Prophet Mahomet would never go to Shiraz, for fear, had 
he once set eyes on its lovely women, his soul after death 
would never have entered Paradise. Travellers which 
have been to that city and writ thereof, do say the same. 
And herein observe the hypocrisy of that same dissolute 
and rascal Prophet and his pretended continence; as if it 
were not to be found writ down, as Belon doth tell us, in 
an Arab work entitled "Of the Good Customs of Ma- 




hornet," extolling the Prophet's corporeal vigour, how 
that he was used to boast of working and satisfying all 
his eleven wives which he had in a single hour, one after 
the other. To the deuce with the rascally fellow ! Let us 
speak no more of him. When all is said and done, I had 
as lief never have named him at all! 

I have heard this question raised concerning the be- 
haviour of Alexander which I have described above and 
that of Scipio Africanus, to wit which of the twain did 
merit the greater praise of continency? 

Alexander, distrusting the strength of his chasteness, 
did refuse even to look at the fair Persian maids. Scipio, 
after the taking of New Carthage, did look at the beau- 
tiful Spanish girl his soldiers brought him and offered 
him as his share of the booty, which maid was so excellent 
in beauty and of so fair a time of life and flower of age, 
that wheresoever she did pass, she would brighten and 
charm the eyes of all that did behold her, and eke of Scipio 
himself. But he, after greeting her right courteously, 
did make inquiry of what city of Spain she was and of 
her family. 

Then was he informed, among other things, how that 
she was betrothed to a young man, Alucius by name, 
Prince of the Celtiberians, to whom he did give her up and 
to her father and mother, without ever laying a hand on 
her. By which conduct he did lay the said lady, her rela- 
tions and her betrothed, under such obligation that they 
did ever after show themselves most well affectioned to 
the city of Rome and the Commonwealth. 

Yet who knoweth but in her secret soul this fair dam- 
sel had not rather have been assailed first of all by Scipio, 
who, remember, was young, handsome, brave, valiant 




and victorious ? It may well be that if some bosom friend, 
male or female of the girl's had asked her on her faith 
and conscience whether she had not wished it so, I leave 
it to the reader to suppose what she would have answered, 
and if at the least she would not have made some little 
sign or gesture signifying what her real wish had been. 
For think how the climate of her country and that wester- 
ing sun of Spain might well have made her hot and keen 
for love, as it hath many another fair lady of that land, 
as fair and gracious as she, in our own day, as myself 
have seen many an one. It can scarce be doubted then, 
if this fair and honourable maid had but been asked and 
courted of the young and handsome Scipio, but she would 
have taken him at the word, yea ! even on the altar of her 
heathen gods ! 

Herein hath Scipio doubtless been commended highly of 
some for his noble gift of continence. Yet hath he been 
no less blamed of others; for wherein may a brave and 
valorous gallant better show forth the generosity of his 
heart towards a fair and honourable lady than by mani- 
festing to her in deeds that he doth prize her beauty and 
highly admire it. Better this than treating her with that 
cold respect, that modesty and discretion, the which I 
have heard many good gentlemen and honest ladies call 
rather by the name of silliness and want of spirit than of 
virtue? Nay, verily! 'tis not such qualities at all a beau- 
tiful and worthy dame doth love in her heart of hearts, 
but rather good love and service that is prudent, discreet 
and secret. In one word, as an honourable lady did one 
day exclaim a-reading of this tale, Scipio was a fool, 
valiant and noble captain as he was, to go out of his way 
so to bind folk to him under obligation and to the Roman 




side by any such silly ways, when he might have done it 
just as well by other means more convenient. Beside, 
'twas booty of War, whereof a man may take his joy and 
triumph as legitimately as of any other thing whatsoever 
in the world, or more so. 

The great First Founder of Rome did not so, on oc- 
casion of the rape of the fair Sabine women, toward 
her which fell to his share. Rather he did to her accord- 
ing to his good pleasure, and paid her no cold respect 
whatever. This she did relish well enough and felt no 
grievance, neither she nor her companions, which did very 
soon make accord with their new husbands and ravishers. 
The women for their part did make no complaint like 
their fathers and mothers, which did rouse a fierce war 
of reprisals. 

True it is, folk be of different sorts, and there be women 
and women. Some are loth to yield to any stranger in 
this sort, herein more resembling the wife of King Orti- 
agon, one of the Galatian monarchs of Asia Minor. She 
was of a perfect beauty, and being taken captive on the 
Kings' defeat by a Roman Centurion and solicited in her 
honour, she did stand firm in refusal, having a horror of 
yielding herself to him, a man of so low and base a station 
compared with herself. Wherefore he did have her by 
force and violence, whom the fortune and chance of War 
had given him by right of conquest to make his slave of. 
But 'twas no long while before he did repent him, and 
meet with vengeance for this offence; for the Queen, hav- 
ing promised him a great ransom for her liberty, and 
both being come to the appointed place for him to receive 
the money, she did have him slain, as he was a-counting 
of the gold, and did carry away it and his head to her 



husband. To this last she did confess freely how that 
the Roman had indeed violated her chastity, but that she 
had taken her vengeance of him therefor in this fashion, 
the which her husband did approve and did highly honour 
her for her behaviour. And from that day forth, said the 
history, she did faithfully keep her honour unsullied to 
the last day of her life with all scrupulousness and serious- 
ness. Anyway she did enjoy this good treat, albeit it did 
come from a low-born fellow. 

Lucretia did otherwise, for she tasted not the pleasure 
at all, albeit solicited by a gallant King. Herein was she 
doubly a fool, first not to gratify him on the spot and 
readily enough, and secondly to kill herself. 

To return once more to Scipio, 'twould seem he knew 
not yet the ways of War concerning booty and pillage. 
For by what I learn of a great Captain of our troops, 
there is no such dainty morsel for loot as a woman taken 
in War. The same good soldier did make much mock 
of sundry others his comrades, which were used to insist 
above all things, at assaults and surprises of towns, on 
the saving of the women's honour, as well as on divers 
other occasions and rencontres. This is sheer folly, see- 
ing women do always love men of arms more than any 
others, and the very roughness of these doth give them the 
better appetite. So who can find aught to blame? The 
pleasure is theirs; their honour and their husbands' is 
in no way fouled ; and where is the mighty harm and ruin? 
And yet another point, they do oft by this means save 
their husbands' goods and lives, as did Eunoe, wife of 
Bogud or Bocchus, King of Mauretania, to whom Cassar 
did give great possessions and to her husband likewise, 
not so much, we may well believe, for having followed his 



side, as Juba, King of Bithynia did that of Pompey, as 
because she was a beautiful woman, and Caesar did have 
the enjoyment of her pleasant favours. 

Many other excellent conveniences are there and advan- 
tages of these loves I must needs pass over. Yet, this same 
great Captain would exclaim, in spite of them all would 
other commanders, his comrades and fellows, obeying silly, 
old-fashioned laws of War, be fain to preserve the honour 
of women. But surely 'twere more meet first to find out in 
secrecy and confidence their real wishes, and then decide 
what to do. Or mayhap they be of the complexion of our 
friend Scipio, who was worse than the gardener's dog, 
which, as I have before said, will neither himself eat the 
cabbages in the garden, nor yet let other folk taste of 
them. This is the way he did treat the unhappy Mas- 
sinissa, who had so oft times risked his life for him and 
for the Roman People, and so sore laboured, sweated and 
endeavoured, for to gain him glory and victory. Yet after 
all he did refuse him the fair Queen Sophonisba and did 
rob him of her, seeing he had chose her for his chiefest 
and most precious spoil. He did take her from him to 
send her to Rome, there to live out the rest of her days as 
a wretched slave, if Massinissa had not found a remedy 
to save her from this fate. The Conqueror's glory had 
been fairer and nobler, if she had appeared at Rome as a 
glorious and stately Queen, and wife of Massinissa, so 
that folk would have said, as they saw her go by : "Look ! 
one of the fair vestiges of Scipio's conquests." Surely 
true glory doth lie much rather in the display of great 
and noble things than of mean and degraded. 

In fine, Scipio, in all this discussion, was shown to have 
committed grievous faults, whether because he was an 




enemy of the whole female sex, or as having been altogether 
impotent to satisfy its wishes. And yet 'tis said that in his 
later years he did engage in a love intrigue with one of his 
wife's maids, the which the latter did very patiently 
endure, for reasons that might easily be alleged to account 
for the said complaisancy. 


|OWEVER, to return from the digression I have 
just been indulging in and come back into the 
direct course of my argument, I do declare as 
my last word in this discourse, that nothing 
in all the wide world is so fair to see and look upon as a 
beautiful woman splendidly attired or else daintily dis- 
robed and laid upon a fair bed, provided always she be 
sound and sweet, without blemish, blot or defect, as I 
have afore said. 

King Francis I. was used to say, no gentleman, how- 
soever magnificent, could in any better wise receive a great 
Lord, howsoever mighty and high-born, at his mansion or 
castle, than by offering to his view on his first arrival a 
beautiful woman, a fine horse and a handsome hound. For 
by casting his gaze now on the one, now on the other 
and presently on the third, he would never be a-weary in 
that house, having there the three things most pleasant 
to look upon and admire, and so exercising his eyes right 

Queen Isabelle of Castile was wont to say, there were 
four things did give her very great pleasure to behold: 
H ombre d'armas en campo, obisbo puesto en pontifical, 
Undo, dama en la cama, y ladron en la horca, "A man 





of arms in the field, a Bishop in his pontificals, a fair lady 
in her bed, and a thief on the gallows." 

I have heard the late Cardinal de Lorraine, a short while 
since deceased, relate how on the occasion of his going to 
Rome to the Court of Pope Paul IV., to break off the truce 
made with the Emperor, he did pass through Venice, 
where he was very honourably received, we cannot doubt, 
seeing he was so high in the favour of so high and puissant 
a King. The most noble and magnificent Senate of that city 
did set forth in a body to meet him. Presently, passing up 
the Grand Canal, where every window of all the houses 
was crowded with all the fairest ladies of the place, who 
had assembled thither to see the state entry, there was a 
certain great man of the highest rank which did discourse 
to him on the business of the State, and spake at length 
of great matters. But after a while, seeing the Cardinal 
was for ever casting his eyes and fixing them on all these 
beautiful dames, he said to him in his native Venetian 
dialect: "My Lord Cardinal, I think you heed me not, 
and you are right enough. For surely 'tis much more 
pleasure and diversion to watch these fair ladies at the 
windows and take delight of their beauty than to listen 
to the talk of a peevish old man like me, even though he 
should be talking of some great achievement and success 
to redound to your advantage." On this the Cardinal, 
who had no lack of ready wit and memory, did repeat 
to him word for word all he had said, leaving the good 
old man excellently well pleased with him, and full of 
wonder and esteem, seeing that for all his feasting of 
his eyes on the fair ladies of Venice, he had neither 
forgot nor neglected aught of all he had said to him. 

Any man which hath seen the Court of our French 




Kings, Francis I., Henri II., and other Sovereigns his 
sons, will freely allow, whosoever he be and though he 
have seen all the world, he hath never beheld aught so fair 
and admirable as the ladies which did frequent their 
Court and that of the Queens and Princesses, their wives, 
mothers and sisters. Yet a still fairer sight would he 
have seen, say some, if only the grandsire of Master Gon- 
nin had yet been alive, who by dint of his contrivances, 
illusions, witchcrafts and enchantments could have shown 
the same all undressed and stript naked, as they say he 
did once in a private company at the behest of King 
Francis. For indeed he was a man very expert and subtile 
in his art of sorcery ; whose grandson, the which we have 
ourselves seen, knew naught at all in this sort to be com- 
pared with him. 

This sight I ween would be as agreeable and diverting as 
was of yore that of the Egyptian women at Alexandria, on 
occasion of the reception and welcoming of their great 
god Apis, to greet whom they were used to go forth in 
great state, and lifting their gowns, bodices and shifts, and 
tucking up the same as high as ever they could, did show 
the god themselves right out. If any will see the tale, let 
him read Alexander ab Alexandro, in the 6th book of his 
Dies Joviales. I think such a sight must indeed have 
been a right agreeable one, for in those days the ladies 
of Alexandria were exceeding fair, as they are still to 
this day. 

Doubtless the old and ugly women did in like wise ; but 
there! what matter? The eye should never strain but 
after what is fair and comely, and avoid the foul and 
unlovely all it may. 

In Switzerland, men and women do meet promiscuously 




in the baths, hot and cold, without doing any dishonest 
deed, but are satisfied with putting a linen cloth in front 
of them. If this be pretty loose, well! we may see some- 
thing, mayhap agreeable or mayhap not, according as 
our companion is fair or foul. 

Before ending this part of my discourse, I will add yet 
one word more. Just think again to what sore tempta- 
tions were exposed the young lords, knights and nobles, 
plebeians and other men of Rome, and what delectation of 
the eye they did enjoy in ancient times on the day when 
was kept the feast of Flora at Rome. This Flora, 'tis 
said, was the most engaging and successful courtesan 
that did ever practise harlotry at Rome, or in any other 
city. And what did yet more recommend her herein was 
the fact she was of a good house and noble lineage; for 
dames of such high sort do naturally please the more, 
and to go with such doth afford greater gratification. 

Thus the lady Flora had this excellence and advantage 
over Lai's, seeing the latter would give herself to any like 
a common strumpet, but Flora to great folk only. And 
indeed she had this writing put up at the entering in of 
her door, "Kings, Princes, Dictators, Consuls, Censors, 
Pontifices, Quagstors, Ambassadors, and other the like 
great Lords, enter; but no other." 

Lai's did ever ask payment beforehand, but Flora never, 
saying she did act so with great folk to the end they might 
likewise act by her as great and illustrious men should, and 
also that a woman of much beauty and high lineage will 
ever be esteemed as she doth value herself. So would she 
take naught but what was freely given her, declaring 
every gentle dame should do pleasure to her lover for 






love's sake, and not for avarice, for that all things have 
their price save and except true love alone. 

In a word, she did in her day so excellently and sweetly 
practise love, and did win her such gallant lovers, that 
whenever she did quit her lodging now and again to walk 
abroad in the city, there was talk of her enough to last a 
month, as well for her beauty, her fair and rich attire, 
her gallant bearing and engaging mien, as for the ample 
suite of courtiers and lovers and great lords which went 
with her, and did follow and attend her like veritable 
slaves, an honour she did take with no ill grace. And 
ambassadors from foreign lands, when they did return to 
their own country, would ever find more delight in tales 
of the beauty and wondrous excellence of the divine Flora 
than in describing the greatness of the Roman State. 
And above all would they extol her generosity, a thing 
contrary to the common bias of suchlike dames; but 
then she was out of the common altogether, seeing she 
was of noble origin. 

Eventually she did die so rich and opulent that the 
worth of her money, furniture and jewels were enough 
to rebuild the walls of Rome, and furthermore to free 
the State of debt. She did make the Roman People her 
heir in chief ; and in memory thereof was erected at Rome 
a very sumptuous Temple, which was called from her 
name the Florianum. 

The first Festival ever the Emperor Galba did celebrate 
was that of the fond Flora, at the which 'twas allowed all 
Roman men and women to do every sort of debauchery, 
dissoluteness, abomination and extravagance they chose 
and could imagine. Indeed she was deemed the most re- 




ligious and most gallant dame, which on that day did best 
play the dissolute, debauched and abandoned wanton. 

Think of it ! Never a fiscaigne ('tis a lascivious dance 
the loose women and Moorish slave-girls dance on Sun- 
days at Malta publicly in the open square), nor saraband 
did come near these Floralia for naughtiness; and never 
a movement or wanton posture or provocative gesture or 
lascivious twist and twirl did these Roman dames omit. 
Nay! the more dissolute and extravagant the figures she 
did devise, the more gallant and gay was deemed the per- 
former ; for the Romans did hold this creed that the more 
wanton and lecherous the gesture and carriage wherewith 
a woman did approach the Temple of this goddess, the 
more like was she to win the same charms and opulence 
Flora herself had enjoyed. 

Verily a fine creed, and a fine mode of solemnizing a 
festival ! but remember they were but Pagans. Well ! little 
doubt there was never a sort of naughtiness they did fail 
to bethink them of, and that for long beforehand these 
worthy dames would be a-studying of their lessons, just 
as our own countrywomen will set to work to learn a ballet, 
and would devote all their heart and soul to these things. 
Then the young men, and the old ones too, would be no 
less eager to look on and behold their quaint grimacings 
and wanton tricks. If such a show could be held in our 
days, folks would be right glad to profit by the same in 
every sense ; and to be present at such a sight, the public 
would verily crowd itself to death! 

Further details let each imagine for himself; I leave 
the task to our merry gallants. Let any that is fain, 
read Suetonius, as also Pausanias in Greek and Manilius in 
Latin, in the books they have writ concerning illustrious, 




amorous and famous ladies, and he will learn the whole in 

This one more story, and then an end. We read how 
the Lacedaemonians set forth once to lay siege to Messene" ; 
but the Messenians were beforehand with them. For they 
did sally out upon the enemy, some of them, whilst the 
rest did make all haste and away to Lacedaemon, thinking 
to surprise their town and pillage it, while the Spartans 
were occupied before Messene. They were however valor- 
ously repelled and driven off by the women which had been 
left behind. Hearing of their design, the Lacedaemonians 
did turn about and make their way back toward their 
own city. But from a long way off they did make out 
their women all armed, who had already driven off the 
enemy whose attack on the city they had dreaded. Then 
did the said women straightway inform them of all, and 
relate their victory, the news whereof did so delight 
them they did set to on the spot to kiss, fondle and caress 
the victors. In such wise that, forgetting all shame and 
without even waiting to take off their harness, neither 
men nor women, they did gallantly do the thing with them 
on the very spot where they had met them first. Then 
were things to be seen not usual in War, and a right pleas- 
ant rattle and tinkle of arms and armour and the like 
to make itself heard. In memory whereof they did have 
built a temple and statue to the goddess Venus, under the 
title of the Armed Venus, unlike all other images of the 
goddess, which do always represent her naked. A merry 
tale of a merry encounter, and a happy idea to depict 
Venus armed, and call her by that title! 

'Tis no uncommon sight among men of arms, especially 
at the taking of towns by assault, to see soldiers fully 




armed enjoying women, having neither the time nor pa- 
tience to disarm before satisfying their lust and appetite, 
so fierce and eager are they. But to see soldier and 
woman both armed in cohabitation together is a thing 
seldom seen. 

Well, well! enough! we must needs make an end, 
albeit I could have filled out this discourse to more ample 
length by not a few other examples, had I not feared to 
seem over wanton, and incur an ill repute of naughtiness. 

However, after so much praise of fair ladies, I do feel 
me bound to repeat the words of a Spaniard, who one 
day wishing ill to a woman, did describe her in very proper 
terms to me thus : 

Senor, vieja es como la lampada azeytunada d'iglesia, y 
de hechura del armario, largo, y desvayada, el color y gesto 
como mascara mal pintada, el talle como una campana o 
mola de el andar y vision d'una antigua fantasma de la 
noche, que tanto tuviese encontrar-la de noche, como ver 
una mandragora. lesus! lesus! Dios me libre de su mal 
encuentro! No se content a de tener en su casa por hues- 
ped al provisor del obisbo, ni se contenta con la demasiada 
conversacion del vicario ni del guardian, ni de la amistad 
antigua del dean, smo que agora de nuevo ha tornado al 
que pide para las animas del purgatorio, para acabar su 
negra vida; "Sir ! look at her ! She is like an old, greasy 
Church lamp. Form and shape are those of a great 
aumry, all mis-shapen and ill made; complexion and fea- 
tures like a badly drawn mask; figure as shapely as a 
monastery bell or a great millstone. Her face is like 
an old idol; her look and gait like an antic ghost that 
walks by night. I should be as sore afraid to meet her 
in the dark as to face a horrid mandrake. The good 




Jesus keep me from such an encounter! The Bishop's 
Ordinary is her constant guest, but she is not satisfied; 
the garrulous Vicar and the good old Dean are her oldest 
friends, but she is not content. She must needs entangle 
now the Pardoner for poor souls in Purgatory, to com- 
plete the infamy of her black and odious life." 

Observe how the Spaniard, which hath so well described 
the thirty beauties of a fair lady (have I not quoted them 
above, in this same Discourse?), can, when he so wills, 
abuse the sex with the like gusto. 



tnc oeotttu ol a tine, lea, ana tne. 
me aomc aotn 


|MONG many and sundry beauties the which 
I have at divers times known us courtiers to 
praise, and which are right well adapted 
to attract love, one of the highest esteemed 
is a fine leg on a fine woman. Many fair ladies have I 
known take great pride therein, and use great pains to 
have and to keep the same beautiful. Amongst others 
I have heard tell of a noble Princess of the great world, 
and one that I did myself know, which did cherish one 
of her ladies above all the rest, and did favour her beyond 
all, for this only because she could draw on her mistress' 
hose so close and tight, and arrange them so cleverly 
to fit the leg, and fasten the garter so prettily, better 
than any other. For this only reason she gat great pre- 
ferment at her hands, and even did win considerable 
wealth. Now in view of all this care she took to keep her 
leg in such good trim, we may be very sure 'twas not to 
hide the same under her petticoats or under skirts or 
frock, but to make display thereof at whiles with fine 
drawers of cloth of gold and silver, or other the like rich 





stuff, very prettily and daintily made, which she did 
commonly wear. For verily a woman taketh not such 
pleasure in her body without being fain to give others a 
share also in the sight, yea! and the enjoyment thereof. 

Moreover this lady could not make excuse, saying 'twas 
all done to pleasure her husband, as the most part of 
women, and even of old women, will ever declare, whenas 
they do make themselves so seductive and gay, though 
they be quite elderly ; for she was a widow. True it is in 
her husband's lifetime she had done the same, and would 
not leave off the habit afterward, merely because she 
had lost him. 

I have known many fair and honourable ladies, both 
wives and maids, which are no less painstaking thus to 
keep their fine legs in well cared for, seemly and attrac- 
tive guise. And very right they be so to do; for truly 
there is more wanton seduction doth lie therein than you 
would readily suppose. 

I have heard speak of a very great lady, of the days of 
King Francis, and a right fair dame, who having broken 
a leg and had the same set, did after find 'twas ill done, 
and the limb was left all twisted. So stout of heart was 
she, that she did make the bone-setter break it afresh, for 
to restore it to its right shape as before, and make it as 
fine and straight as ever. Hereat a certain lady did 
express no little surprise; but another fair lady, and a 
well experienced one, did answer thus and said, "Ah! I 
see plainly you know not what amorous virtue a fine 
leg hath in it." 

I knew in former days a very fair and honourable 
damsel of the great world, who being much in love with a 
great Lord, for to attract him to her and by way of try- 



ing some good device to win him to her, a design wherein 
she could never succeed, one day being in a wooded ave- 
nue and seeing him approach, did make a pretense as 
though her garter were coming down. So withdrawing 
a little on one side, she did lift up her leg, and began to 
pull up her stocking and re-adjust her garter. The great 
lord did note it all well, and found her leg an exceeding 
fine one. Indeed he did lose his head so completely that 
this sight of her did work more effect on him than ever 
her face had done, for he did think to himself how that 
two such fine columns must needs support a very fine 
building. And later he did admit as much to his mistress, 
who afterward did with him as she would. A noteworthy 
device truly, and a pretty bit of love practice ! 

I have heard speak likewise of a fair and honourable 
lady, and one especially witty and of a gay good humour, 
who one day, when her chamber valet was a-drawing on 
of her hose, did ask him if this did not put him in heat, 
temptation and concupiscence ; * nay ! she put it yet more 
plainly, and said the plain word right out. The valet, 
thinking to please and for the respect he bare his mis- 
tress, did answer her, No! At this she did of a sudden 
lift her hand and gave him a sound cuff on the head, 
crying out, "Begone with you! you shall never serve me 
more. You are a simpleton, and I do give you notice 
from this day." 

There be many young ladies' valets nowadays which 
be not so self-restrained at the rising of their mistresses 
from bed and in the dressing of them and putting on 
of their footgear. Moreover many a gentleman would 
have found it hard to act thus, seeing so fair a treat 
spread out before his eyes. 





'Tis not only in our own day men have esteemed the 
beauty of fine legs and pretty feet (for 'tis one and the 
same thing; but in the time of the old Romans likewise 
we do read how Lucius Vitellius, father of the Emperor 
Vitellius, being very sore smit with love for Messalina 
and desiring to be in favour with her husband by her 
means, did one day beseech her to do him the honour of 
granting him a boon. The Empress asked him, "What 
boon?" " 'Tis this, Madam," he replied, "that you be 
pleased one day to suffer me to take off your shoes." 
Messalina, who was ever full of courtesy for her subjects, 
could not refuse him this favour. Then he, after remov- 
ing her shoes, did keep one of them, and bore the same 
always about with him betwixt his shirt and his skin, kiss- 
ing it as oft as ever he had opportunity, in this wise 
worshipping his lady's pretty feet in the guise of her 
slippers, forasmuch as he could not have at his disposal 
the foot itself nor the fine leg appertaining thereto. 

Then you have that English Lord in the Cent Nouvelles 
of the Queen of Navarre, which did in like wise wear his 
mistress' glove by his side, and that so richly adorned. 
Again I have known many gentlemen which, before 
donning of their silk stockings, would beg their fair ladies 
and mistresses to try on the same and wear them the 
first a week or ten days, more or less ; after which them- 
selves would wear them in great respect and high content 
of mind and body. 

I knew once a Lord of the great world, who being at 
sea with a very great lady and one of the fairest of 
womankind, had the happiness, seeing he was travelling 
with her through his country and as her women were 
all ill of seasickness and so in very ill case to serve her, 





to be obliged to put her to bed with his own hands every 
night and get her up in the morning. But in so doing 
and in putting on of her footgear and taking off the 
same, he did grow so much enamoured as to be well nigh 
desperate, albeit she was his near kinswoman. For verily 
the temptation herein was too exceeding great, and there 
doth not exist the man so mortified in spirit but he is 
something moved by the same. 

We do read of the wife of Nero, Poppaea Sabina, which 
was the favourite of all his wives and mistresses, how 
that, beside being the most lavish of women in all sorts 
of superfluities, ornaments, embellishments, gawds and 
costly weeds, she did wear shoes and slippers all of pure 
gold. This luxury was not like to make her hide her 
foot and leg from Nero, her cuckold mate; nor yet did 
he enjoy the sole delight and pleasure of the sight, for 
there was many another lover had the same privilege. 
Well might she display this extravagance for herself, 
seeing she was used to have her horses' hoofs, which did 
draw her chariot, shod with shoes of silver. 

Saint Jerome doth reprove in very severe terms a lady 
of his time which was over careful of the beauty of her 
leg, using these exact words: "With her little brown 
boot, well fitting and well polished, she doth decoy young 
men, and the tinkle of her shoe-buckles is a snare unto 
them." No doubt this was some dainty fashion of foot- 
gear in vogue in those days, that was over luxurious and 
ill becoming to modest women. The wearing of foot-gear 
of the sort is to this present day in use among Turkish 
ladies, and those the best-born and most virtuous. 

I have seen the question raised and discussed which is 
the more seductive and alluring, the naked leg, or the leg 





covered and stockinged? Many hold there is naught like 
the natural article, when 'tis well made and perfectly 
turned, according to the points of beauty enumerated 
by the Spaniard I did quote from a little above, and is 
white, fair and smooth, and appropriately displayed in a 
fine bed. For if it be otherwise and a lady were fain to 
show her leg all bare in walking and so on, and with shoes 
on her feet, albeit she should be the most magnificently 
dressed out possible, yet would she never be deemed be- 
comingly apparelled. Nor would she really and truly 
look so fair as one that should be properly equipped with 
pretty hose of coloured silk or else of white thread, such 
as be made at Florence for summer wear, and which I 
have often seen our ladies wearing in former times, before 
the great vogue we do now see of silk stockings. But the 
hose must ever be drawn close and stretched as tight as a 
drum and so fastened with clasps or otherwise, according 
to the preference and good pleasure of the wearer. 
Further must the foot be fitted with a pretty white shoe, 
or a slipper of black velvet or velvet of some other colour, 
or else a neat little high-heeled shoe, cut to perfection, 
such as I have seen a certain very noble lady of the great 
world wear, of such sort that naught could well be better 
or more dainty. 

Wherein again the beauty of the foot must be con- 
sidered. If this be too large, 'tis not pretty; but an if 
it be too tiny, it doth give a naughty hint and ill notion 
of its wearer. Rather it should be of a middling size, as 
I have seen sundry which have been exceeding appetizing, 
above all when their owners did thrust the same half in, 
half out, and just show them beneath their petticoat, and 
make them shift and quiver in little tricksome, wanton 





movements, being shod with a pretty little high-heeled 
shoe, thinly soled, or else a white slipper, pointed, not 
square-toed in front; but the white is the most daintiest. 
But these little high-heeled shoes and pumps be for big, 
tall women, not for the short and dwarfish ones, which 
do have their great horse-shoes with soles two feet thick. 
One had as lief as these see a giant's club on the swing, 
or a fool's bawble. 

Another thing a woman should beware of is the dis- 
guising her sex and dressing herself as a boy, whether 
for a masquerade or for any other occasion. For so 
attired, though she have the finest leg in the world, yet 
doth she look ill-shapen in that part, seeing all things 
have their proper setting and suitable array. Thus in 
falsifying of their sex, they do altogether disfigure their 
beauty and natural grace. 

This is why 'tis not becoming for a woman to dress 
as a boy for to display her charms to the more advantage, 
unless indeed it be merely to don a dainty, gallant cap 
with the Guelf or Ghibelline feather stuck therein, or 
perched above the brow, in such wise to be distinctively 
neither male nor female, after the fashion our ladies have 
of late adopted. Yet even this doth not suit all women 
equally well; the face must be saucy and of just the 
right expression to carry it off, as we have seen in the 
case of our Queen Marguerite of Navarre. Her it did 
suit so well that, seeing her face only when she was so 
bedecked, no man could tell which sex she came the nearer 
to, whether she more looked the handsome boy or the 
beautiful woman she really was. 

This doth remind me of another lady of the great 
world, and one I knew, which wishing to imitate the same 


. M()l^c1MKfo8rtrltf71f1^^ 



mode when about twenty-five years of age, and altogether 
over tall and big statured, a great masculine looking 
woman and but lately come to Court, and thinking to 
play the gallant dame, did one day appear so attired 
in the ball-room. Nor did she fail to be much stared at 
and rallied not a little on her costume. Even the King 
himself did pronounce his judgement thereon, for indeed 
he was one of the wittiest men in his realm, and declared 
she did resemble a mountebank's wench, or still better 
one of those painted figures of women that are imported 
from Flanders and set up in front of the chimney-pieces 
in inns and taverns with German flutes at their lips. In 
fact he went so far as to have her told that if she did 
appear any more in that dress and get-up, he would order 
her to bring her flute with her for to play a merry greet- 
ing to the noble company withal and divert them with 
her music. Such cruel sport did he make of her, as well 
because the said head-gear did so ill suit her as for a 
grudge he had against her husband. 

So we see such masquerading doth not suit all ladies 
alike. For when this same Queen of Navarre, the fairest 
woman in all the world, was pleased to adopt a further 
disguise beyond the cap, she did never appear so fair 
as she really was, nor ever would have. And indeed what 
shape could she have taken more beauteous than her own, 
seeing there is none better she could have borrowed from 
any in all the world? And if she had chose to show her 
leg, the which I have heard sundry of her women describe 
as the finest and best ever known, otherwise than in its 
proper form, and appearing well and fitly stockinged and 
shod below her fine clothes, never would it have been 
deemed so handsome as it was. Thus with a due regard 




to surroundings doth it behove fair ladies to show and 
make display of their beauties. 


]HAVE read in a Spanish book entitled El 
Viage del Principe, or "The Prince's Voy- 
age," to wit that which the King of Spain x 
did make in his Province of the Low Coun- 
tries, in the time of the Emperor Charles his father, how 
among other fine receptions he did meet with among his 
rich and wealthy cities of those parts, was one of the 
Queen of Hungary in the fair city of Bains, which did 
give rise to a proverb, Mas brava que las fiestas de Bains, 
"Finer than the festivities of Bains." 

Among other magnificent shows was this. During the 
siege of a sham castle that was erected, and besieged in 
form as a place of war, (a description of the same is 
given elsewhere in my Works), she did one day give an 
entertainment, notable among all others, to the Emperor 
her good brother, the Queen Eleanor her sister, the King 
her nephew, and all the Lords, nights and ladies of the 
Court. Toward the end of the show did appear a lady, 
accompanied by six Oreads, or mountain nymphs, clad 
in the antique mode, in the costume of nymphs of the 
Virgin Huntress, all attired in cloth of silver and green 
and crescents on their brow all beset with diamonds in 
such wise that they seemed to imitate the brilliancy of the 
moon, and carrying each her bow and arrow in hand, 
and rich quivers at their side, their shoes in like wise of 
cloth of silver, well fitting and well put on so as that they 
could not be better. And so caparisoned they did enter 




the great hall, leading their dogs after them, and did pre- 
sent to the Emperor and laid on the table before him all 
sorts of game in pasties, the which they had taken in their 

Thereafter did come Pales, the goddess of shepherds, 
with six nymphs of the meadows, clad all in white of cloth 
of silver, with furniture of the same on their heads all 
beset with pearls, wearing likewise hosen of the same 
material with white slippers ; and these did bring all sorts 
of milk confections, and laid the same before the Emperor. 

Then for the third band, came the goddess Pomona, 
with her Naiads, or water nymphs, which did bring the 
last offering of fruits. And this goddess was the daugh- 
ter of Donna Beatrix Pacecho, Comtesse d'Autremont, 
lady-in-waiting of Queen Eleanor, a child at that time 
of some nine years old. She it is that is now wife of the 
Admiral de Chastillon, he having wedded her as his second 
wife. This pretty maid and goddess did bring in, she 
and her companions, all sorts of fruits such as could be 
found at that season, for it was Summer time, the richest 
and rarest procurable, and did present the same to the 
Emperor with a set speech so eloquent, so fine and pro- 
nounced with so sweet a grace that she did win the great 
love and admiration of the Emperor and all the company 
there assembled, her youth being taken in account, that 
from that day forward 'twas foretold of all that she would 
be what she is to-day, a fair, wise, honourable, virtuous, 
clever and witty lady. 

She was similarly attired as a nymph like the rest of 
her companions, all being clad in cloth of silver and 
white, with hosen and shoes of the same, and their heads 
decked with much wealth of jewels. But these were all 



emeralds this time, to represent in part the colour of 
the fruit they did offer. And besides the gift of fruit, she 
did make one to the Emperor and the King of Spain of 
a Tree of Victory all enamelled in green, the boughs laden 
with great pearls and precious stones, right rich to be- 
hold and of inestimable worth ; also to the Queen Eleanor 
a fan, with a mirror in the mid thereof, the whole gar- 
nished with jewels of great price. 

Verily this Princess and Queen of Hungary did show 
right well that she was an honourable lady in all points, 
and that her address and tact was as admirable as was 
her skill in the art of war. And indeed, by all I have 
heard said, the Emperor her brother did feel no little 
content and comfort to have so honourable a sister and 
so worthy of him. 

Now have I laid myself open to blame and might fairly 
enough be asked why I have made this digression in the 
course of my Discourse. 'Tis to point out how that all 
these maids that did represent these characters had been 
chose out and selected as being the fairest among all the 
suite of the Queens of France and of Hungary and of 
Madame de Lorraine, being Frenchwomen, Italians, 
Flemish, German and Lorrainers. In all the number was 
no defect of beauty; and God knoweth if the Queen of 
Hungary had been painstaking and exact to choose such 
as were fairest and most graceful. 

Madame de Fontaine-Chalandry, who is yet alive, could 
give us good assurance of this, who was at the time 
maid of honour of the Queen Eleanor, and one of the 
fairest. She was known also by the name of "the fair 
Torcy," and hath told me the tale of all these doings. 
And I have it for sure both of her and from other 




quarters too how that all the lords, gentlemen and knights 
of that Court did take their diversion in looking at and 
examining fine legs, limbs and pretty little feet of these 
ladies. For attired thus as nymphs, they were dressed 
in short gowns, and could make a very engaging display, 
more enticing even than their pretty faces, which ad- 
mirers could see every day, whereas 'twas not so with 
their other beauties. And so sundry courtiers did grow 
more enamoured by the sight and display of these same 
fine legs, than ever of their pretty faces, seeing that atop 
of such fine columns there be commonly found fine cor- 
nices with their friezes, fine architraves, and rich capitals, 
smoothly polished and curiously carved. 

So must I be allowed yet another digression, and to say 
my say as I please, now we be upon the subject of shows 
and suchlike representations. Almost at the same mo- 
ment as these noble festivities were a-doing in the Low 
Countries, and above all at Bains, on occasion of the 
reception of the King of Spain, was made the state entry 
of King Henri, on his way back from visiting his province 
of Piedmont and his garrisons there, into Lyons, which 
was of a surety one of the finest and most triumphant 
ever known, as I have heard honourable ladies and gentle- 
men of the Court declare, which were there at the time. 

Well! if this show and representation of Diana and 
her hunt was found admirable at these Royal festivities 
of the Queen of Hungary, another was contrived at 
Lyons which was different again and still more lifelike. 
For as the King was marching along, and just about to 
reach a grand obelisk of Classic fashion, on the right 
hand of his way he did actually find a meadow by the 
side of the high road surrounded by a wall something 





more than six feet high, and the said meadow within filled 
up with earth to the same height. This had been regu- 
larly filled up with trees of moderate growth, planted in 
between with thick undergrowth and many shrubs and 
smaller brushwood, as well as with a good supply of fruit 
trees. In this miniature forest did disport them many 
little stags all alive, and fawns and roebuck, though of 
course tame ones. Presently his Majesty did hear sundry 
hunting-horns and trumpets sound softly; and thereupon 
instantly did behold through the aforesaid wood Diana 
a-hunting with her companions and forest maids, holding 
in her hand a richly dight Turkish bow, and her quiver 
hanging at her side, attired in the costume of a nymph, 
after the fashion the remains of Antiquity do yet show 
us. Her body was clad in a short doublet with six great 
round scallops of black cloth of gold, strewn with silver 
stars, the sleeves and body of crimson satin with border- 
ings of gold, tucked up to mid thigh, displaying her fine 
limb and pretty leg, and her sandals of the antique shape, 
set with pearls embedded in embroideries. Her hair was 
interlaced with heavy strings of rich pearls, with wealth 
of precious stones and jewels of price; while above the 
brow a little silver crescent was set, blazing with tiny 
little diamonds. For gold would not have been so well, 
nor so true a representation of the natural crescent, 
which is clear and silvery. 

Her companions were accoutred in divers sorts of cos- 
tumes of lustring striped with gold, both wide and narrow 
stripes, always in the antique mode, as well as sundry 
other colours of an antique sort, varied and intermingled 
as well for curiousness of effect as for gaiety of appear- 
ance. Hosen and shoes were of satin; their heads decked 





out in like wise in the character of nymphs, with many 
pearls and precious stones. 

Some were leading in leash sleuth-hounds, small grey- 
hounds, spaniels and other dogs by cords of silk white and 
black, the King's colours which he bare for the love of a 
lady named Diana whom he loved; others did go along 
with and encourage the running dogs, that were in full 
cry. Others again did carry little darts of hard wood, 
the point gilded, and having pretty little hanging tassels 
of black and white silk, and hunting-horns and trumpets 
mounted in gold and silver hanging in bandoleers with 
cords of thread of silver and black silk. 

And so soon as ever they did perceive the King, a lion 
did sally forth of the wood, which was tamed and trained 
long before for this, and did throw himself at the feet 
of the said goddess, giving her welcome. So she, seeing 
him so mansuete and gentle, did take him by a great 
rope of silver cord and black silk, and on the instant 
did present the same to the King. Thus coming forward 
with the lion to the edge of the wall of the meadow border- 
ing the road, and within a pace or so of his Majesty, 
she did make offer to him of the beast in a rhymed stanza, 
of the sort composed in those days, yet not so ill wrought 
either or ill sounding. And according to this rhyme, the 
which she did pronounce with a very good grace and 
sweetness, under the guise of the lion so gentle and well 
behaved she did offer him his town of Lyons, now all 
gentle, well behaved and brought under to his laws and 

All this being said and done with a very sweet grace, 
Diana and all her companions did make him an humble 
reverence; whereupon having looked at them all with a 





favourable eye and greeted them graciously, signifying 
he had found their hunting shows right agreeable and 
thanking them heartily, he did so part from them and 
went on his way to his entry into the city. Now observe 
that this same Diana and all her nymphs were the most 
highly thought on and fairest wives, widows and maids 
of Lyons, where is no lack of such, which did play their 
mystery so well and in such engaging sort that the most 
part of the Princes, Lords, gentlemen and courtiers were 
exceedingly delighted thereat. I leave you to judge 
whether they had not good cause so to be. 

Madame de Valentinois, known as Diane de Poitiers, 
the King's mistress, in whose name this hunting was made, 
was not less well content, and did like well all her life 
long the good town of Lyons. And indeed she was their 
neighbour, by reason of the Duchy of Valentinois which 
is quite close to that place. 

Well ! as we are on the subject of the pleasure to be 
derived from the sight of a fine leg, we may be assured, 
as I have heard say, that not the King only, but all these 
Court gallants, did find a marvellous great pleasure in 
contemplating and gazing at those of these fair nymphs, 
so gaily attired and high kilted as that they did give as 
much, or more, temptation to ascend to a yet higher 
level, as admiration and reason to approve so pretty and 
pleasantly contrived a divertisement. 

However, to quit our digression and return to the 
point at which we left our main subject, I mention how 
we have seen played at our Court and represented by our 
Queens right graceful ballets, and especially by the Queen 
Mother; yet as a rule, for us courtiers we would be ever 
casting our eyes on the feet and legs of the ladies which 




did take part in them, and did find by far our greatest 
pleasure in seeing them display their legs so agreeably, 
and so move and twinkle their feet so nimbly as that 
naught could be better. For their petticoats and frocks 
were much shorter than usual, though not so much so 
as in the nypmhs' costume, nor so high as they should 
have been and as was desired of many. Yet did our eyes 
fasten somewhat on those parts, and especially when they 
were dancing the quick step, which making the skirts to 
flutter up, would generally show something or other pleas- 
ant to look at, a sight that I have seen several find 
altogether too much for them, so that they did lose all 
self-control over themselves. 

The fair ladies of Sienna, at the first beginning of the 
revolt of their city and republic, did form three com- 
panies of the most beautiful and greatest ladies were in 
that town. Each company did mount to a thousand, so 
as the whole was three thousand strong. One company 
was clad in violet lustring, one in white, and one in red, 
all being attired as nymphs with very short skirts, in such 
wise that they did make full display of fine limbs and 
legs. In this wise they did pass in review before all their 
fellow townsmen as well as before his Grace the Cardinal 
of Ferrara and M. de Termes, Lieutenants General of our 
French King Henri, all firmly resolved and determined to 
die for the Republic and for France, and all ready to give 
a hand to the work of fortifying the said city. Indeed 
all and each did carry a fascine ready on shoulder; and 
did rouse by their gallantry the admiration of all. This 
tale I do set down in another place, where I am speaking 
of high-spirited women; for truly 'tis one of the finest 
exploits was ever done by gallant dames. 





For the present I will content me with saying how I 
have heard it told by many gentlemen and soldiers, both 
French and foreign, and especially by sundry of that 
town, that never aught finer was seen, seeing they were all 
great ladies and of the chiefest families of that place, 
and each fairer than another, for 'tis well known that 
beauty is far from lacking in that city, but is very gen- 
eral therein. But if it were a fine sight to behold their 
handsome faces, 'twas no less so to see and gaze upon 
their handsome limbs and fine legs, with their pretty hosen 
and shoes well fitting and well put on, as the dames of 
those parts know right well how to do. Then they did 
all wear their gowns very short, in the guise of nymphs, 
that they might march the easier, the which was enough 
to tempt and warm up the most chilliest and mortified of 
mankind. And what did most pleasure the onlookers was 
this, that whereas they might any day see their faces, 
they could not so behold these fine and handsome legs of 
theirs. He was no fool which did devise this same mode 
and costume of nymphs, for it doth readily afford many 
fine sights and agreeable spectacles. The skirts be cut 
very short, and are divided up the side to boot, as we do 
yet see it represented in the fine Roman antiques, which 
doth still more flatter the wantonness of the eye. 

But in our own day, with the fair ladies of Chios, 
matrons and maids, what and how is it they be so at- 
tractive? Why! truly 'tis their beauty and their charms 
of face and figure, but also their superb fashions of 
dress, and above all their very short gowns, which do 
make full display of their dainty, well shod feet. 

This doth remind me how one time at Court a lady of 
very tall and imposing figure, looking at a magnificent 





and noble hunting piece in tapestry, wherein Diana and 
all her band of virgin huntresses were very naturally 
represented, and all by the fashion of their dress did 
show their pretty feet and fine legs, did chance to have 
with her one of her companions, which was of very low 
and small stature, and who was likewise diverting herself 
along with the other in examining the said tapestry. To 
her she did say thus: "Ha! ha! little one, if all we 
women did dress after that fashion, you would be in a 
bad way and would lose all advantage, for your great 
high-heeled shoes would betray you ; and you would never 
have such grace in your walk, nor such charm in showing 
of your leg, as we that are tall and stately. You would 
have to keep close and scarce show at all. Give thanks 
then to the days we live in and the long gowns we wear, 
which be so favourable to you, and do hide your legs 
so conveniently. For indeed with your great high-heeled 
shoes a foot tall, these be more like a cudgel than a 
woman's leg. If a man had never a weapon to fight 
withal, he would but have to cut off a leg and grasp it 
by the end where your foot is shod and encased in your 
high shoes, and he would have a beautiful club for the 
fiercest encounter." 

This lady was very right in what she said, for truly 
the prettiest leg in the world, if it be so imprisoned in 
these great, heavy, high-heeled shoes, doth lose its beauty 
altogether, seeing this great club foot doth cause too 
great a deformity for anything; for if a pretty foot 
well shod and dainty goeth not with the leg, all is of no 
avail. Now these dames which do adopt these great, 
heavy, lumbering high-heeled shoes think no doubt to em- 
bellish and better their figures and thereby appear more 





beautiful and be the more loved; but on the other hand 
they do worsen their fine leg and foot, which be surely 
in their natural beauty worth as much as a fine tall figure 
that is but a sham. 

Similarly in time of yore, a pretty foot did carry with 
is so much of wanton fascination, that many prudish 
minded and chaste Roman ladies, or at the least such as 
did feign to be so, and even in our own day some do 
the like in Italy in imitation of antique morals, do as 
much scruple about showing this part in public as their 
faces, hiding it under their flowing gowns all ever they 
can, so that none may see it; and in walking do go so 
prudishly, discreetly and carefully as that it never pass- 
eth out from under their robe. 

This is well enough for such as are trained in prudish 
bearing and respectability, and are for never offering 
temptation; we must say this much for them. Yet I 
ween, an if they had their free choice, they would make 
display enough both of foot and leg, and of other things 
to boot. Beside, they do consent to show the same to 
their husbands, for all their hypocrisy and petty scruples 
about being dames of position and respectability. How- 
ever I but relate the fact as it is. 

I do know of a certain gentleman, a very gallant and 
honourable man, which only by having seen at Rheims at 
the Consecration of the late King, the lovely leg, in a 
white silk stocking, of a great and very fair lady, a 
widow and of tall stature, from underneath those scaf- 
folds they erect for ladies to see the ceremony from, did 
fall so deep in love with her as that he grew well nigh 
desperate with passion. Thus what her handsome face 
had failed to effect, this her fine development of leg did 





bring about; though truly the said lady did deserve by 
the beauty of all her person to drive an honourable 
gentleman to his death. And I have known other men 
too of the like humour. 

At any rate for final word will I say this, and I have 
known the same to be held as an incontrovertible maxim 
by many gallant courtiers, my comrades, that the display 
of a fine leg and pretty foot is a thing most dangerously 
apt to fascinate wanton eyes to love ; and I wonder much 
that some of our many good writers, whether poets or 
others, have never writ the praises thereof, as they have 
of other parts of fair ladies' bodies. For myself, I would 
have writ more on this subject, but that I was af eared, 
if I did overmuch belaud these parts of the person, I 
should be reproached as scarce enough heeding the rest. 
Beside I have perforce to treat of other matters, and 
may not tarry too long over one. 

Wherefore I do now make an end with this little word 
of advice: "For God's sake, Ladies, be not so careful 
to make you seem of taller stature and other than you 
are; but rather look to the beauty of your legs, the 
which be so fair and fine, at any rate with some of you. 
But ye do mar the charm of them with those monstrous 
high-heeled boots and huge horse-shoes ye do wear. 
Doubtless ye do need such; but by having the same of 
such exaggerated size, ye do disgust folk far more than 
ye imagine." 

I have said my say. Whosoever will, may bepraise 
the other beauties of woman, as sundry of our poets have 
done ; but I maintain, a fine leg, a limb well shapen and a 
pretty foot, do exercise no small fascination and power 
in the realm of Love. 



etc damca ad ion3 to ptaoti^c uycc 
j f 

me tiouna one& -oc. 


| HAVE spoke afore of old dames which be fain 
to play the wanton; yet do I further append 
this discourse here. So by way of commence- 
ment, I will say how one day myself being at 
the Court of Spain and conversing with a very honourable 
and fair lady, but withal something advanced in age, I 
did hear her pronounce these words : Que ningunas damas 
lindas, o alo menos pocas, se hazen viejas de la cinta 
hasta abaxo, "that never a fair lady, or at the least very 
few such, are old from the waist downwards." On my 
asking her in what sense she did mean this, whether 'twas 
the beauty of person from waist down that did never 
diminish in any wise by reason of age, or the desire and 
appetite of concupiscence that did not at all fail or grow 
chilled in these parts, she did make answer she intended 
both the one and the other. "For indeed," she went on, 
"as to the prickings of the flesh, no cure is there for 
these you must know, but death only ; albeit old age would 
seem to be an obstacle thereto. Yet doth every beautiful 
woman ever fondly love her own self, and in so loving, 
'tis not for her own, but some other's sake; and is in 



no wise like Narcissus, the which, so foolish was the youth, 
himself lover and beloved, did think scorn of all other 

A beautiful woman hath naught of this humour about 
her. So have I heard it related of a very fair lady, which 
after first loving herself and taking much joy of her 
own beauty alone and by herself, and in her bed stripping 
of herself quite naked, and so looking at her own person, 
and admiring and contemplating the same, did curse her 
hard fate to be vowed to one sole husband that was not 
worthy to enjoy so fair a body, holding him to be in no 
wise her equal in merit. At the last was she so fired by 
such contemplations and sights and longings as that she 
did bid a long farewell to her virtue arid her marriage vow, 
and did practise new love with a new lover. 

This is how a woman's beauty doth kindle and inflame 
her, constraining her to have resort to such, whether hus- 
bands or lovers, as may satisfy her desire ; while 'tis always 
the nature of one love to lead to another. Wherefore 
being thus fair and sought after of some admirer, and if 
she disdain not to answer to his passion, she is at once 
in the snare. So Lai's, the famous courtesan, was used 
to declare, that so soon as ever a woman doth open her 
mouth to make a gentle reply to her friend, lo ! her heart 
is flown, and the door opened straightway. 

Moreover no fair and honourable woman doth ever 
refuse any good praise that men render her; and once 
she is gratified and doth suffer such commendation of her 
beauty, grace and gentle ways, the which we courtiers 
be ever wont to make by way of first assault of love, 
though it may be some while a-doing, yet in the long run 
we do always win the place. 





Further, it is a true thing that no beautiful woman, 
having once made essay of the game of love, doth ever 
unlearn the same, and for ever after is the sport right 
pleasant and delightsome to her. Just as when a man 
hath grown accustomed to good living, 'tis exceeding dis- 
agreeable to discontinue the same; and as this is better 
for the health, the more a man is got on in years, (as the 
doctors declare), so the more a woman advanceth in age, 
all the more is she greedy after the good cheer she is 
accustomed to. This daintiness is nowise forgot or 
remitted because of the weight of years, but more like by 
some long sickness, (so the faculty tell us), or other 
accident ; and albeit disinclination may be experienced for 
some while, yet will the taste for such good things be 
renewed anon. 

'Tis said, again, how that all activities do decrease and 
diminish by reason of age, which doth rob folk of the 
strength to properly exercise the same, except only that 
of Venus, the which is carried out very luxuriously, with- 
out sore trouble or much exertion, in a soft, comfortable 
bed, and altogether at ease. I do speak now of the woman, 
and not of the man, to the share of which latter falleth 
all the labour and task-work in this province. A man 
then, once deprived of this pleasure, doth easily and early 
abstain from further indulgence, albeit sometimes it may 
be in spite of himself; whereas a woman, be she of what 
age she will, doth take to her, like a furnace, and burn up, 
all stuff that cometh her way. Nay ! even though a dame 
should be so aged as to look but ill, and find herself in no 
such good case as in her younger years, yet she may by 
dint of money find means to get gallant cavaliers at the 
current rate, and good ones too, as I have heard say. All 




commodities that cost dear do sore vex the purse, (this 
goes counter to Heliogabalus' opinion, who the dearer he 
did buy his viands, the better he thought them), except 
only the commodities of Love, the which be the more agree- 
able in proportion as they cost more, by reason of the 
great desire felt to get good value of the bargain and 
thoroughly enjoy the article purchased. So the poor 
talent one hath, is made to do triple service, or even hun- 
dredfold service, if that may any way be. 

This is what a certain Spanish courtesan meant by her 
word to two brave gentlemen which did pick a quarrel 
together over her, and sallying forth to her house, did 
take sword in hand and fall to a-fighting. But she putting 
head out of window, did cry out to them: Senores, mis 
amores se ganan con oron y plata, non con hierro, 
"Nay ! Sirs, my love is won with gold and silver, not with 

All love well purchased is well and good. Many a lady 
and many a cavalier which have done such traffic could 
tell us so much. But to allege here examples of ladies, 
and there be many such, which have burned as hot in 
their old age as ever in youth, and have satisfied, or to 
put it better, have kept up, their fires with second hus- 
bands and new lovers, would be for me now a waste of 
labour, seeing I have elsewhere given many such. Yet 
will I bring forward one or two here also, for my subject 
doth require it and is suitable to such matters. 

I have heard speak of a great lady, one that was as well 
talked about as any of her day, which one day seeing a 
young gentleman with very white hands, did ask him what 
he was used to do to have them so. To this he made an- 
swer, by way of jape and jest, that so oft as ever he could, 




maMiMijaa^ 1 ^!^^?^!^^^ 

he would be a-rubbing of them with the spirit of love. 
"Ah ! well," she replied, " 'tis my bad luck then ; for more 
than sixty years have I been washing myself therewith, 
and I'm just as bad as the day I began. Yet do I bathe 
so every day." 

I have heard speak of a lady of pretty advanced age, 
who wishing to marry again, did one day ask a physician's 
advice, basing her reasons for so doing on the fact that 
she was exceeding full of all sorts of evil humours, which 
had assailed and ever afflicted her since she was a widow. 
Yet had this never so happed in the lifetime of her hus- 
band, seeing that by dint of the constant exercises they 
did perform together, the said humours were consumed. 
The physician, who was a merry fellow, and willing enough 
to please her herein, did counsel her to marry again, and 
in this fashion to chase away the humours from her, say- 
ing 'twas better far to be happy than sad. The lady did 
put this advice in practise, and found it answer very 
well, indeed, superannuated as she was. This was, I mean, 
with a new husband and lover, which did love her at 
least as much for the sake of her good money as for any 
pleasure he gat of her. Though of a surety there be 
many quite old dames, with whom as much enjoyment is 
to be had as with younger women; nay! 'tis sometimes 
greater and better with such, by reason of their under- 
standing the art and science of love better, and so the 
more stimulating their lovers' taste therefor. 

The courtesans of Rome and of Italy generally, when 
they are verging toward ripe years, do maintain this 
maxim, that una galina vecchia fa miglior brodo che un' 
ultra, "an old hen doth make better broth than any 





The Latin poet Horace doth make mention of an old 
woman, which did so stir and toss about when she came to 
bed, and move her so violently and restlessly, that she 
would set not alone the bed but the whole house a-trem- 
bling. A gallant old dame in sooth! Now the Latins do 
name suchlike agitation and wanton movement subare 
a sue. 

We do read of the Emperor Caligula, that of all his 
women which he had, he did love best Caesonia, and this 
not so much by reason of her beauty, nor because she was 
in the flower of age, for indeed she was by then well on in 
years, but on account of her exceeding lustfulness and the 
wantonness that was in her, as well as the good pains she 
did take in the exercise thereof, and the experience her age, 
and long practise had taught her, herein leaving all the 
other women in the lurch, albeit handsomer and younger 
than herself. He was used to take her commonly to the 
wars with him, clad and armed like a man, and riding in 
manlike wise side by side with him, going so far even as 
often times to show her to his comrades all naked, and 
make her exhibit to them her feats of suppleness. 

Thus are we bound to allow that age had in no wise 
diminished the lady's beauty, seeing how greatly the 
Emperor was attached to her. Natheless, with all this 
fond love he did bear her, very oft wheneas he was a-kissing 
and touching her fair neck, he could not hinder himself, 
so bloody-minded was he, from saying: "Ah! the beau- 
tiful neck it is; yet 'tis in my power at will to have it 
cut." Alas and alas! the poor woman was slain along 
with her husband with a sword thrust through the body 
by a Centurion, and her daughter broken and dashed to 



death against a wall, the which could never have been but 
for the ill deeds of her father. 1 

We read further of Julia, step-mother of the Emperor 
Caracalla, 2 how that one day being as it were by inad- 
vertence half naked, she did expose one-half of her body 
to his eyes ; whereupon he said these words, "Ha, ha ! but 
I could relish it well enough, an if it were allowed me!" 
She answered straightway, "So please you, know you not 
you are Emperor, and therefore make laws instead of obey- 
ing them?" On hearing these words and seeing her readi- 
ness, he did marry her and couple with her. 

A reply of pretty much the same import was given to one 
of our last three French Kings, whose name I will not 
mention. Being enamoured and fallen deep in love with 
a very fair and honourable lady, after having made the 
earlier advances and preliminaries of his suit to her, did 
one day cause his pleasure to be conveyed to her more 
at length by an honourable and very judicious and adroit 
gentleman I know by name and repute. So he, conveying 
to her the Sovereign's little missive, did use all his elo- 
quence to persuade her to consent. But she, no fool at 
this game, did defend herself the best she could by many 
excellent reasons the which she well knew how to allege, 
without forgetting the chief est, her honour, that mighty, 
or rather mighty small, treasure. At the last, the gentle- 
man after much disputing and many protestations, did ask 
her finally what she did desire he should tell the King. 
Then she, after some moments of reflection, did suddenly, 
as if brought to bay, pronounce these words following: 
"What are you to tell him?" she cried, "why! what else 
but this? tell him I know well enough that no refusal was 
ever advantageous to any, man or woman, which doth 




make such to his King and Sovereign; and that very oft 
a Prince, exerting the power he hath, will rather give the 
orders and taking a thing than go on begging and praying 
for it." Not ill content with this reply, the gentleman 
doth straightway bear it to the King; who taking time 
by the fore-lock, doth hie him to the lady in her chamber, 
and without any over great effort or resistance doth have 
his will. The reply was at once witty, and showed her 
good will to pleasure her King. Albeit men say 'tis never 
well to have sport or dealings with the King, yet must we 
except this particular game, wherefrom never was ill 
advantage gotten, if only the woman do behave her 
prudently and faithfully. 

To return to the afore named Julia, step-mother of the 
Emperor, she must need have been a very harlot to love and 
take for husband one which had on her own bosom slain 
some while before their own proper son ; 3 verily she was a 
base harlot and of base heart. Still 'twas a grand thing to 
be Empress, and for such an honour all else is forgot. 
This Julia was greatly loved of her husband, albeit she 
was well advanced in years. Yet had she lost naught of 
her beauty; but was very fair and very ready-witted, as 
those her words do witness, which did make yet greater 
the bed of her greatness. 





MARIA, Third Duke of Milan, 1 did 
wed as second wife Beatrix, widow of the late 
deceased Facino Cane, 2 being then an old 
woman. But she did bring him for marriage 
portion four hundred thousand crowns, without reckoning 
other furnishings, rings and jewelry, which did amount 
to a great sum, and quite wiped out all thought of her 
age. Yet spite of all, she did fall under her husband's 
suspicions of having gone to play the wanton elsewhere, 
and for this suspicion was done to death of him. You see 
how little did old age destroy her taste for the games of 
love. We must e'en suppose the great practice she had 
had thereof had but given her the desire for more and 

Constance, Queen of Sicily, 8 who from her youth up and 
near all her days, had been vestal and never budged forth 
of a cloister-cell, but lived there in life-long chastity, 
getting her freedom to come out in the world at last at 
the age of fifty, though in no wise fair and quite decrepit, 
yet was fain to taste the joys of the flesh and marry. 
She did grow pregnant of a child at the age of fifty-two, 
and did desire to be brought to bed publicly in the open 
meadows about Palermo, having had a tent or pavilion set 
up there on purpose, to the end folk might have never a 
doubt but the fruit of her body was verily to hand. And 
this was one of the greatest miracles ever seen since the 
days of Saint Elizabeth. Natheless the History of 
Naples * doth affirm 'twas reputed a supposititious child. 
At any rate he did grow up a great man for all that; 
but indeed these, and the greater part of valiant men, 



are just the folk that be often bastards, as a high-born 
friend of mine did one day remark to me. 

I knew once an Abbess of Tarascon, sister of Madame 
d'Usez, of the noble house of Tallard, 5 which did leave 
off her religious habit and quit her convent at over 
fifty years of age, and did wed the great Chanay we 
have seen play so gamesome a part at Court. 

Many other women of religion have done the like, 
whether in wedlock or otherwise, for to taste the joys 
of the flesh, and this at a very ripe age. If such as these 
do so, what are we to expect our everyday dames to do, 
which have been broken in thereto from their tenderest 
years? Is age like to hinder them from now and again 
tasting and eating tit-bits, the customary enjoyment 
whereof they have so long been used to? Else what 
would become of so many good strengthening soups and 
cunningly compounded broths, so much ambergris and 
other warming and comfortable drugs for to warm and 
comfort their stomach now grown old and chilly? For 
'tis not open to doubt but that such like decoctions, while 
they do recreate and keep sound their weakly stomachs, 
do likewise perform another function on the sly, in giving 
them more heat of body, and rousing some degree of 
passionate warmth. This is sure and certain, without 
appealing to the opinion of physicians, to whom how- 
ever I do refer me as to the matter. 

And another and yet greater advantage for them is 
this. Being now aged and coming nigh on to their fifty 
years, they need feel no more fear of getting with child, 
and so have full, plenary and most ample freedom to enjoy 
and make up all arrears of those pleasures which may- 





hap some of them have not dared take hitherto for dread 
of the consequences. So it is that there be many which 
do give more rein to their amours when got to the wrong 
side of fifty than when still on the right. Not a few 
ladies both of the highest and less exalted rank have I 
heard tell of as being of this complexion, so much so 
that I have known or heard of several that have many 
a time and oft longed for their fifty years to have come 
and gone, to hinder them of conceiving and suffer them 
to do it the more freely without risk or scandal of any 
sort. Nay! why should they refrain them on the ap- 
proach of old age? Indeed you might well say that 
after death itself there be women which yet feel some 
movement and pricking of the flesh. This bringeth me 
to another tale I must needs tell. 

I had in former days a younger brother called Cap- 
tain Bourdeille, one of the bravest and most valiant 
captains of his time. I am bound to say thus much of 
him, albeit he was my brother, without going too far in 
my panegyric of him. The same is proved by the fights 
he fought both in battle and in the lists; for indeed he 
was of all gentlemen of France the one that had most 
skill of arms, so that in Piedmont he was known as one 
of the Rodomonts of those parts. He was slain at the 
assault of Hedin, the last time that place was retaken. 

He was intended by his father and mother for a life 
of letters; and with this view was sent at the age of 
eighteen into Italy to study. He did take up his abode 
at Ferrara, for the reason that Madame Renee de France, 
Duchess of Ferrara, was much attached to my mother, 
and did keep him in that city to pursue his studies, for 
there was an University there. However, seeing he was 




fitted neither by birth nor disposition for this sort of 
life, he did study scarce at all, but did rather amuse him- 
self with the delights of love and courtship. In fact he 
did fall deep in love with a certain French lady, a widow, 
which was in the service of the Duchess, known as Mile, de 
La Roche (or de La Mothe) and did have much pleasure 
with her, each loving the other exceeding well, till at the 
last my brother, being recalled home again by his father, 
who saw he was ill fitted for letters, was reluctantly con- 
strained to return. 

The lady, loving him greatly, and greatly fearing it 
might turn out ill with him, for she was much of Luther's 
way of thinking, who was then widely followed, did beg 
my brother to take her with him to France and to the 
Court of Marguerite, Queen of Navarre, 6 in whose ser- 
vice she had been, and who had given her to Madame 
Renee, when she was married and went to live in Italy. 
My brother, who was young and quite heedless, was only 
too glad of such excellent company, and did willingly 
escort her to Paris, where the Queen was then residing. 
This last was right glad to behold her, for of all women 
she was the wittiest and most ready of tongue, and was 
a handsome widow to boot and perfect in all accom- 

My brother, after having tarried some days with my 
grandmother and my mother, who was then performing 
her Court service, did presently go home to see his father. 
After some while, sickening utterly of letters, and seeing 
himself in no wise fitted for their pursuit, he doth quit 
that career altogether and away to the wars in Pied- 
mont and Parma, where he did win much honour. So 
he did serve in these wars by the space of five or six 



months without returning home. At the end of this 
time he went to see his mother, who was at the time at 
Court with the Queen of Navarre; the Queen was then 
holding Court at Pau, and my brother did make his 
reverence to her as she was returning from Vespers. 
Being one of the best natured Princesses was ever in this 
world, she did receive him right graciously, and talcing 
him by the hand, did walk with him up and down the 
Church for an hour or twain, asking him news of the wars 
in Piedmont and Italy and of many other matters. To 
all this my brother did make answer so well that she was 
very well satisfied (for indeed he was as ready of tongue as 
any of his time) as well with his wit as with his person, 
for he was a most handsome man, and of the age then of 
twenty-four. At the last, after long discourse with him, 
for 'twas ever the nature and complexion of the said noble 
Princess in no wise to scorn good talk and the conversa- 
tion of good and honourable folk, gliding from subject to 
subject and still walking up and down the while, she did 
quietly bring my brother right over the tomb of Mile. 
de La Roche, which had died three months before, and 
there staid him. Presently taking his hand, she said 
thus; "Cousin mine" (she called him so, seeing that a 
daughter of Albret had married into our house of 
Bourdeille; but for all that I do keep no greater state 
than another, nor suffer my ambition to run away with 
me), "cannot you feel something move down below under 
your feet?" "Why! no, Madame," he did reply. 
"Nay! take heed and mark carefully, cousin," she did 
resume. But my brother only made answer, "Madame, 
I have taken heed, but I can feel nothing moving. The 
stone I tread on is firm enough." "Well, well! I must 





tell you then," the Queen went on, without keeping him 
longer in suspense, "that you are standing above the 
tomb and the body of poor Mile, de La Roche, whom 
erst you did love so fondly; she is interred beneath this 
spot. Now seeing that our souls do possess feeling after 
our death, how can we doubt that this excellent creature, 
dead but lately, was moved so soon as ever you came over 
her? And if you did not mark it by reason of the gross- 
ness of the tomb, no doubt for this cause was she the 
more stirred and moved in herself. Now forasmuch as 
'tis a right pious office to have memory of the dead, and 
specially of them we have loved, I do beseech you give her 
a Pater nosier and an Ave Maria and a de Profundis 
to boot, and sprinkle her resting place with holy water; 
so shall you win the name of a very faithful lover and a 
good Christian. And to this end will I now leave you," 
and so quits him and hies her away. My brother, (who 
is since dead), failed not to perform what she had said, 
and then went to see her again; whereupon she did 
somewhat take him to task and rally him, for she was 
familiar with folk, in a good sense that is, and had 
graceful skill in gentle mockery. 

Such then was the view this Princess did hold, but more 
by way of witty conceit and gentle sentiment than from 
actual belief, as I think. 

These gentle words of the Princess do further remind 
me of an epitaph over a courtesan that is buried at the 
Church of our Lady of the People (del Popolo) at Rome, 
which doth read thus: Quaesco, viator, ne me diutius 
calcatam amplius calces, "To him that passeth by: 'I 
have been kicked and spurned enough in my lifetime; 
spurn me no more.' ' The Latin expression hath more 




grace than the English equivalent. I do put the thing 
down here more by way of a jest than anything else. 

Well, to draw to an end, no need to be astonished that 
the Spanish lady named above did hold the maxim she 
did enunciate good of all such fair ladies as have been 
greatly loved of others, and have loved, and do love, 
themselves, and do take delight in being praised, albeit 
they may have but little left of their by-gone beauty. 
But yet 'tis ever the chiefest pleasure you can give them, 
and the one they do love the most, whenas you tell them 
they are still the same, and are in no wise changed or 
aged, and above all those of them which grow not old 
from the waist downwards. 

I have heard speak of a very fair and honourable lady 
which one day did say thus to her lover: "I know not 
whether for the future old age will bring me increasing 
inconvenience and incapacity," she was fifty-five years 
old ; "but, God be thanked, I did never do myself pleasure 
so well as I do now, nor ever took greater joy therein. 
Whether this do last out and continue till my extremest 
old age or no, I have no fault to find, nor complaint to 
make of my days gone by." 

Now as concerning love and concupiscence, I have both 
here and elsewhere adduced examples enough, without 
dwelling longer on this subject. Let us now consider a 
while the maxim as concerning this special beauty of 
fair ladies, how that it doth not diminish by reason of 
old age. 

For sure, the aforesaid Spanish lady did allege many 
good reasons and seemly comparisons, likening these fair 
ladies to fine old buildings of yore whose ruins do yet 
remain superb and imposing. So amid the noble antiqui- 




ties of Rome do we see the ruins of palaces, superb relics 
of Collosseum and Thermae, which to this day do plainly 
show what they once were, and do inspire all beholders 
with wonder and awe, their mere ruins being wondrous and 
surprising. Nay, more ! on these same ruins men do still 
build right noble edifices, proving that the foundations be 
better and finer than fresh new ones. So very often in 
their constructions, the which our good architects and 
masons do undertake, if that they find some old ruins and 
ancient foundations, straightway do they build on these, 
and that in preference to laying new ones. 

Likewise have I seen good galleys and ships built and 
reconstructed on old hulls and old keels, the which had 
long lain in harbour doing nothing ; and these were every 
whit as good and sound as others which the ship-carpen- 
ters did frame and build all new, and of new timber fresh 
from the forest. 

Furthermore, our Spanish lady was used to say, do we 
not many a time see the summits of high towers carried 
away, overthrown and disfigured by winds, storms and 
lightning, while the base doth remain safe and sound? For 
'tis ever against such lofty points that storms do spend 
their fury. The sea winds moreover do corrode and eat 
away the upper stones of a building and do wear them 
hollow more than those at the bottom, seeing these be not 
so much exposed as the ones higher up. 

In like wise many fair ladies do lose the brilliancy and 
beauty of their pretty faces by various accidents whether 
of cold or heat, of sun and moon, and the like, as well as, 
more's the pity, by reason of various cosmetics, the which 
they do apply to them, thinking so to heighten their 
charms, but really and truly spoiling all their beauty 




thereby. Whereas in other parts, they do apply no other 
preparation but only nature's method, feeling therefore 
neither cold, nor rain, nor wind, neither sun nor moon, 
none of which do affect them at all. 

If heat do inconvenience them, they know many means 
to gain relief and coolness; as likewise they can guard 
against cold in plenty of ways. So many inconveniences 
and injuries must needs be warded off from a woman's 
beauty of face, but few or none from that which lieth 
elsewhere. Wherefore we should never conclude, because 
a woman's countenance is spoiled, that she is all foredone 
all over, and that naught doth remain of fine and good, 
and that 'tis useless to build on that foundation. 

I have heard a tale told of a certain great lady, which 
had been exceeding fair and much devoted to love. One 
of her old lovers having lost sight of her for the space of 
four years, through some journey he did undertake, on re- 
turning from the same did find her sadly changed from the 
fair countenance he had known erstwhile, the which did 
so disappoint him and chill his ardour as that he did no 
more care to board her nor to renew with her again the 
pleasure of former days. She did recognize him readily 
enough, did endeavour all she could to get him to come and 
see her. Accordingly to this end she did one day counter- 
feit sickness, and when he had come to visit her by day- 
light did thus say to him : "I know well enough, Sir ! you 
do scorn me for my poor face so changed by age; but 
come, look you, and see if there be aught changed there. 
If my face has deceived you, at any rate there is no 
deception about that." So the gentleman examining her 
and finding her as fair and sound as ever, did straight 
recover appetite and did enjoy the flesh he had thought 





to be spoiled. "Now this is the way, Sir," said the lady, 
"you men are deceived! Another time, give no credence 
to the lies our false faces tell ; for indeed the rest of OUT 
bodies doth by no means always match them. This is the 
lesson I would have you learn." 

Another lady of the like sort, being thus sorely changed 
of her fair face, was in such great anger and despite 
against the same, that she would never more look at it in 
her mirror, saying 'twas unworthy of so much honour. So 
she had her head always dressed by her maids; and to 
make up, would ever look at the other parts of herself 
only and gaze at these, taking as much pride and delight 
therein as she had aforetime done in her beautiful face. 

I have heard speak of another lady, who whenever she 
did lie by daylight with her lover, was used to cover her 
face with a fair white kerchief of fine Holland web, for 
fear lest, if he should look in her face, the upper works 
might chill and stay his affection, and move him to mere 
disgust; for indeed below was naught to chide at, but 
all was as fine as ever. This doth remind me of yet another 
very honourable lady I have heard tell of, who did make a 
diverting and witty reply. Her husband one day asking 
her why her hair in one place was not grown white and 
hoary like that of her head, "Ah, yes," she did exclaim, 
"the wretch it is ! It hath done all the folly, yet doth it feel 
naught, nor experience any ill consequences. Many and 
many a time hath it made my head to suffer; whereas it 
doth ever remain unchanged, in the same good estate and 
vigour, and keepeth the same complexion, and above all 
the same natural heat, and the same appetite and sound 
health. But how far otherwise it is with my other parts, 





which do endure aches and pains for it, and my hair which 
hath long ago grown white and hoary." 

And she had good reason so to speak; for truly this 
doth engender in women many ills, and gout and other 
sicknesses. Moreover for being over hot at it, so the 
doctors say, do they grow prematurely hoary-headed. 
Thus we see fair ladies do never grow old in some parts, 
either in one fashion or the other. 

I have heard many men relate, men which have fol- 
lowed women freely, even going with courtesans, how 
that they have scarce ever seen pretty women get old in 
certain parts, did always keep all their former beauty, and 
good will and hearty disposition to boot as good as afore- 
time. Nay, more ! I have heard not a few husbands declare 
they did find their old women (so they called them) as fair 
and fine as ever, and as full of desire and wantonness, 
beauty and good will, discovering no change at all but of 
face, and were as fain to love them as ever they were in 
their young days. 

In fine, how many men there be which do love old 
women for many reasons better than young ! Just as there 
be many which do love old horses best, whether for a good 
day's work, or for the riding-school and display, such 
animals as have been so well drilled in their youth as that 
you will have never a fault to find with them when grown 
old. Right well trained have they been, and have never 
after forgot their pretty cunning. 

I have myself seen in our Royal stables a horse they 
called Quadragant, first broke in the time of King Henri. 
He was over two and twenty years old ; but aged as he was, 
he yet went very well, and had forgot naught of his exer- 
cises. He could still give his King, and all which did see 




him go through his paces, great and real pleasure. I have 
seen the like done by a tall charger called Gonzago, from 
the stud-farm of Mantua, and which was of the same age 
as Quadragant. 

I have likewise seen that magnificent and well-known 
black, which had been set to stallion's work. Signer An- 
tonio, who had charge of the Royal stud, did show him me 
at Meung, 7 one day I did pass that way, making him do 
the two strides and a leap, and the round step, both 
which he did execute as well as the day M. de Carnavallet 
had first trained him, for he was his horse. The late 
M. de Longueville was fain to hire him of his master for 
three thousand livres; however King Charles would not 
have it, but took him for himself, recompensing the 
owner in another way. A whole host of others I could easily 
name ; but I should never have done, and so do refer me to 
those worthy squires which have seen so many of the sort. 

Our late King Henri, at the camp of Amiens, had chose 
for his mount on the day of battle an horse called le Bay 
de la Paix, & very fine and strong charger, and aged. 
But he died of fever in the camp of Amiens ; so the most 
expert farriers did declare, but 'twas deemed a strange 
thing to have happed. 

The late Due de Guise did send to his stud-farm of 
Esclairon 8 for the bay Sanson, which was there serving 
the mares as stallion, to be his mount at the battle of 
Dreux, where he did carry him excellently. 

In his first wars the late Prince did take from the stud at 
Mun two and twenty horses, which were there as stallions, 
to serve him in his campaigns ; and did divide the same 
among the different lords which were with him, after re- 
serving his own share. Whereof the gallant Avaret did 





have a charger which the great Constable had given to 
King Henri, and which was called le Compere (Old Gos- 
sip). Aged as he was, never was seen a better mount ; his 
master did prove him in some good tough rencontres, and 
he did carry him right well. Captain Bourdet gat the 
Arab, on whose back our late King Henri was wounded and 
slain, a horse the late M. de Savoie had given him, called 
le Malheureux (the Unlucky). This was his name when 
he was presented to the King, and verily 'twas one of very 
ill omen to him. Never in his youth was he near so good 
as he was in his old age ; though 'tis true his master, which 
was one of the most gallant gentlemen of France, did 
show him ever to the best advantage. In a word, of all 
these stallions, was not one that age did hinder from serv- 
ing his master well, and his Prince and country. Indeed 
there be some old horses that will never give up ; hence 
'tis well said, no good horse doth ever become a mere hack. 


|F such sort be many fair dames, which in their 
old age be every whit as good as other women 
in their youth, and do give as great pleasure, 
from their having been in their time thor- 
oughly well taught and trained. And be sure such lessons 
are not easily forgot. Then again the best of it is these 
be always most liberal and generous in giving, so as to 
keep in hand their cavalier and riders, which do get more 
money and demand an higher salary to bestride an old 
mount than a young one. 'Tis just the opposite with 
squires and real horsemen, which do never care so much 




to mount broke horses as young ones that be yet to break. 
However this is but reasonable after all. 

There is a question I have seen debated on the subject 
of women of years, to wit: which doth bring the greater 
glory, to love a woman of years and have the enjoyment 
of her, or to so do with a young one. Not a few have I 
heard pronounce for the older woman. For they would 
maintain that the foolishness and heat which be in youth 
are of themselves debauched enough already and right easy 
to undo; whereas the prudence and coldness that would 
seem natural to age cannot but with difficulty be led 
astray. And so they which do succeed in corrupting such 
win the higher repute. 

In like wise was the famous courtesan Lai's used to boast 
and glorify herself greatly of the fact that the philoso- 
phers did come so oft to visit her and learn in her school, 
more than of all the young and giddy folks which did 
frequent her society. So also Flora was ever proud to 
see great and dignified Roman senators arrive at her door, 
rather than young and foolish gallants. Thus methinks 
'tis great glory to vanquish and overcome the wise pru- 
dence which should be in persons of ripe age, so far as 
pleasure and satisfaction go. 

I do refer me to such men as have made experiment 
hereof, of the which sundry have told me how that a 
trained mount is ever more agreeable than a wild colt 
and one that doth not so much as know the trot. Further- 
more, what pleasure and what greatest delight may not 
a man enjoy in mind, whenas he doth behold enter a ball- 
room, or one of the Queen's apartments, or a Church, 
or other place crowded with company, a lady of ripe years 
and dignity, de alta guisa (of lofty carriage) as they say 





in Italian, and above all a lady of honour to the Queen 
or some Princess, or the governess of some King's daugh- 
ter, young queen or great princess, or mayhap mother 
of the maids of honour, one that is chose out and set in this 
high and sober office by reason of her modest and seemly 
carriage? You shall see her assuming all the part of the 
prudish, chaste and virtuous dame, while everybody doth 
of course suppose her so, by reason of her years ; then 
what joy, when a man doth think in his heart, or e'en 
say it out to some trusty comrade and confidant of his, 
"Look at her yonder, with her solemn ways, her staid 
and cold and scornful mien! To see her, would you not 
deem butter would not melt in her mouth? Yet, alack-a- 
day! never a weathercock in all the wide world doth so 
shift and whirl so swift and nimbly as doth she." 

For myself, I do verily believe the man which hath 
known this joy and can so say, is right well content at 
heart. Ha ! ha ! but I have known a many such dames in 
this world, which did counterfeit to be most modest, 
prudish and censorious duennas, yet were exceeding dis- 
solute and lecherous when they did come to it. Yea ! and 
they would be put on their backs far more than most 
young damsels, which, by reason of their too much inex- 
perience, be afraid of the gentle strife! So do they say 
there is naught so good as old vixens for hunting abroad 
and getting food for their cubs to eat. 

We read how of old days several Roman Emperors did 
take their pleasure in the debauching and having their will 
of suchlike high-born ladies of honour and repute, as well 
for the pleasure and contentment to be had therein, and 
in good sooth there is more with such than with women of 
inferior sort, as for sake of the glory and honour they 




did arrogate to themselves for having so debauched and 
bested them. So in like wise have I known in my own time 
not a few great Lords, Princes and Noblemen, which have 
found great boast and great content at heart, by reason 
of having done the same. 

Julius Caesar and Octavius, his successor, were exceeding 
ardent after such sort of conquests, as I have alleged be- 
fore; and after them Caligula, who summoning to his 
feasts the most illustrious Roman ladies together with 
their husbands, would gaze steadfastly at the same and 
examine them minutely, nay! would actually put out his 
hand and lift their faces up, if by chance any of them 
did hang their heads as conscious of being dames of 
honour and repute, though truly other some were fain 
but to counterfeit this modesty, and play the shamefaced 
prude. But verily there cannot have been a many genuine 
prudes in the days of these dissolute Emperors ; yet must 
they needs make the pretense, albeit nothing more. Else 
had the game not been worth the playing; and I have 
myself in our day seen many a fair lady do the like. 

Afterward such of them as did hit the worthy Emperor's 
taste, these he would take aside openly and from their very 
husbands' side, and leading them from the hall would escort 
them to a privy chamber, where he would take his pleasure 
of them to his full content. This done he would lead them 
back to sit down once more in their place ; and then before 
all the company would proceed to commend their beauties 
and special hidden charms that were in them, specifying 
these same separately and severally. And any which had 
any blemishes, faults or defects of beauty, these he would 
by no means let off in silence, but was used always to 





describe and declare the same openly, without disguising 
or concealing aught. 

Nero was even yet worse than this, being so curious as 
that he did examine his own mother's dead body, gazing 
steadfastly upon the same and handling all her limbs and 
parts, commending some and abusing others. 

I have heard the same thing told of sundry great Lords 
of Christian days, which have had this same strange curi- 
osity toward their dead mothers. 

Nor was this all with the said Caligula ; for he was used 
to retail all their movements, their naughty ways and 
tricks, and the modes and fashions they did follow in their 
doing of it, and in special of any which had been modest 
and prudish, or which had made pretense to be so at table. 
For verily if a-bed they were fain to do the like, there is 
small doubt but the cruel tyrant did menace them with 
death, unless they would do all his pleasure for his full 
content, and so constrained them by the terror of execu- 
tion. Then after would he speak despitefully of them to 
his heart's content, to the sore shame and general mockery 
of the poor dames, who thinking to be accounted chaste 
and modest as ever women can be, and to play the hypo- 
crite and counterfeit donne da ben (virtuous ladies), were 
utterly and entirely revealed in their true colours and 
made known as mere harlots and wanton wenches. And 
truly this was no bad business so to discover them in 
a character they did never wish to be known. And better 
still, 'twas always, as I have said, great ladies that were 
so entreated, such as wives of consuls, dictators, praetors, 
quaestors, senators, censors, knights, and others of the 
highest estate and dignity, as we might say in our own 
days and Christian lands, mighty Queens, (which yet 





are not to be compared with Consuls' wives, seeing these 
were paramount over all men), Princesses of greater and 
less puissance, Duchesses, Marchionesses, and Countesses, 
great and small, Baronesses, Knights' dames, and the like 
ladies of rank and rich estate. And truly there is no 
doubt at all but that many Christian Emperors and 
Kings, if they had the power to do the like of the 
Emperor Caligula toward ladies of such quality, would 
avail themselves thereof. But then they be Christians, 
which have the fear of God before their eyes, his holy 
ordinances, their own conscience and honour, and the 
ill-repute of their fellows, to say naught of the ladies' 
husbands, to whose generous spirit suchlike tyranny would 
be unendurable. Wherein of a surety our Christian Kings 
be deserving of high esteem and commendation, thus to 
win the love of fair ladies rather by dint of gentleness 
and loving arts than by brute force and harsh rigour, 
and the conquest so gained is by far a nobler one. 

I have heard speak of two great Princes * which have 
taken exceeding pleasure in thus discovering their ladies' 
beauties, charms and especial graces, as well as their de- 
formities, blemishes and defects, together with their little 
ways, privy movements and wanton wiles, not however in 
public, as did Caligula, but in privity, with their close and 
particular friends. Truly a sad fashion to entreat the 
pretty persons of these poor ladies. Thinking to do well 
and sport agreeably for to pleasure their husbands, they 
be but scorned therefor and made a laughing-stock. 

Well, to return to our former comparison, just as 
we do see beautiful buildings based on better foundations 
and of better stone and material some than others, and 
for this cause endure longer in their glory and beauty, 



even so there be some dames of bodies so well complexioned 
and fairly fashioned, and endowed with so fine a beauty, as 
that time doth in no wise so prevail over them as with 
others, nor seem to undermine their comeliness at all. 

We read in history how that Artaxerxes, 2 among all the 
wives he had, did love the most Astacia, which was a 
woman of very ripe age, yet still most beautiful, and had 
been the mistress of his late brother Darius. His son did 
fall so deep in love with her, so exceeding fair was she in 
spite of years, that he did demand to share her with his 
father, in the same way as his share of the Kingdom. 
But the father, angered by this and jealous at the notion 
of another sharing with him this dainty morsel, did make 
her Priestess of the Sun, forasmuch as in Persia women 
which hold this estate must vow themselves to absolute 

We read again in the History of Naples how Ladislas, a 
Hungarian and King of Naples, did besiege in Taranto the 
Duchess Marie, widow of Rammondelo de Balzo, and after 
sundry assaults and feats of arms, did take her by ar- 
rangement with her children, and wed her, albeit she was 
of ripe years, yet exceeding fair to look upon, and 
carried her with him to Naples. She was thereafter known 
as Queen Marie and fondly loved and cherished of the 

Myself once saw the fair Duchesse de Valentinois (Diane 
de Poitiers) at the age of seventy, as fair of face, as fresh- 
looking and lovable as at thirty ; and verily she was well 
loved and courted by one of the greatest and most gallant 
Kings in all the world. I may tell her age frankly, with- 
out wrong to the beauty of this fair lady, seeing whenever 
a lady is loved of a great King, 'tis sure sign perfection 



doth abundantly reside in her, and make her dear to him. 
And surely that beauty which is given of heaven should 
never be spared in favour of heaven's demigods. 

I saw this lady, six months before she died, still so very 
fair I can imagine no heart so flinty as not to have been 
stirred thereby, and though a while before she had broke 
a leg on the stony pavement of Orleans, riding and sitting 
her horse as lightly and cleverly as she had ever done. 
But the horse slipped and fell under her; and for this 
broken limb, and all the pains and sufferings she did en- 
dure, one would have thought her fair face must have been 
changed. But nothing of the sort, for her beauty, grace, 
majesty and gallant mien were just what they had ever 
been. And above all, she did possess an extraordinary 
whiteness of skin, without any recourse had to paint; 
only 'tis said that every morning she did employ certain 
washes compounded of spring water and sundry drugs, 
the which I cannot name like good doctors or cunning 
apothecaries can. I do believe that if this fair lady had 
lived yet another hundred years, she would never have 
aged, whether in face, so excellently framed was it, or in 
body, the parts covered and concealed that is, of such 
excellent temper and good condition was this. The pity 
is earth should ever cover these beauteous forms ! 

Likewise myself have seen the Marquise de Rothelin, 8 
mother of the Dowager Princess de Conde and the late 
deceased M. de Longueville, in no wise diminished of her 
beauty by time or age, but keeping the fresh flower of 
her youth as aforetime, except only that her face did grow 
something redder toward the end. Yet did her beautiful 
eyes, that were unmatched in all the world, and which her 





daughter hath inherited, never alter, but were to the last 
as meet to wound hearts as ever. 

Another I have seen in like case was Madame de la Bour- 
daisiere, 4 afterward by a second marriage wife to the 
Marechal d'Aumont. This lady in her later days was so 
fair to look on you would have said she was in her early 
youth still, and her five daughters, all beautiful women, 
did in no wise eclipse her. And readily enough, if the 
choice had been to make, would a man have left the daugh- 
ters to take the mother in preference ; yet had she borne a 
number of children. And truly of all women she did 
most take heed of her good looks, for she was a mortal 
enemy of the night damp and moonlight, and did avoid 
these all ever she could. The ordinary use of paint for 
the face, practised by so many ladies, was quite unknown 
to her. 

I have also seen, and this is a more striking instance 
still, Madame de Mareuil, mother of the Marquise de 
Mezieres and grandmother of the Princess-Dauphin, at 
the age of an hundred, at which she died, looking as fresh 
and upright, as alert, healthy and comely as at fifty. 
She had been a very handsome woman in her younger 

Her daughter, the Marquise de Mezieres named above, 
was of like sort and died in the like good case, but she 
was twenty years younger when this took place, and her 
figure had shrunk somewhat. She was aunt of Mme. de 
Bourdeille, my elder brother's wife, and did bring him the 
like excellent qualities. For albeit she have passed her fifty- 
third year and hath had fourteen children, one may truth- 
fully say this, and others which see her are of better 
judgment than I, and do assure me of the fact, that the 




four daughters she hath by her side do look like her own 
sisters. So do we often see winter fruits, and relics of the 
past season, match those of Summer itself, and keep their 
sweetness, and be as fine and savour as these, and even 

The Amirale de Brion too, and her daughter, Mme. 
de Barbezieux, 5 did continue very handsome women to 
quite old age. 

I have been told of late how that the fair Paule de Tou- 
louse, 6 so renowned of old days, is yet as beautiful as ever, 
though she is now eighty-four, and no change is to be seen, 
whether in her fine, tall figure or her beautiful face. 

Another I have seen is the Presidente de Conte, of Bor- 
deaux, of equal age and equal beauty, in all ways most 
lovable and desirable ; and indeed she was a woman of many 
perfections. Many other such could I name, but I should 
never have done. 

A young Spanish knight speaking of love to a lady of 
advanced age, but still handsome, she did make him this 
answer: A mis completas desta manera me habla V. M.f 
"How can you speak so to my complines?" meaning 
to signify by complines her age and the decline of her best 
days, and the approach of night. The knight did reply: 
Sus completas valen mas, y son mas graciosas que las 
horas de prima de qualquier otra dama, "Your complines 
are better worth, and more fair and delectable than the 
hours of prime of any other lady." A very pretty conceit 
surely ! 

Another speaking in like wise of love to a lady of ripe 
years, and she making objection to him of her withered 
beauty, which yet was not over and above so, did thus 





answer her : A las visperas se conoce la fiesta, "at vespers 
is the feast at its best." 


]E have yet among us to this day Madame de 
Nemours, of yore in the April of her beauty 
the wonder of the world, which doth still defy 
all devastating time. I may truly say of her, 
as may all that have seen her with me, that she was erst 
the fairest dame, in her blooming days, in all Christen- 
dom. I did see her one day dance, as I have told else- 
where, with the Queen of Scots, they twain all alone to- 
gether and without any other ladies to bear them com- 
pany, by way of a caprice, so that all such, men and 
women, as did behold them knew not to which to adjudge 
the palm of beauty. Verily, as one said at the time, you 
would have thought them those two suns which we read in 
Pliny to have once appeared together in the sky, to dazzle 
the world. Madame de Nemours, at that time Madame 
de Guise, did show the more luxurious figure ; and if it be 
allowed me so to say without offence to the Queen of 
Scots, she had the more imposing and apparent dignity 
of port, albeit she was not a Queen like the other. But 
then she was grand-daughter of that great King, 1 the 
father of his people, whom she did resemble in many of her 
features, as I have seen him portrayed in the gallery of 
the Queen of Navarre, showing in every look the great 
monarch he was. 

I think I was the first which did call her by this name of 
Grand-daughter of the great King, Father of his People. 
This was at Lyons, time when the King did return out of 





Poland ; and often would I call her so, and she did me the 
honour to deem it well, and like it at my hands. She was 
in very deed a true grand-daughter of that great King, 
and especially in goodness of heart and beauty. For she 
was ever very good-hearted, and few or none are to be 
found that she ever did ill or displeasure to, while many 
did win great advantage in the time of her favour, that is 
to say in the time of her late husband, Monsieur de Guise, 
which did enjoy high consideration in France. Thus 
were there two very noble perfections united in this lady, 
goodness and beauty, and both of these hath she right 
well maintained to this present day, and by their means 
hath married two most honourable husbands, and two that 
few or none at all could have been found to match. And 
indeed, and if another could be found of like sort and 
worthy of her, and if she did wish for a third, she might 
well enjoy one more, so fair is she yet. 

And 'tis a fact that in Italy folk do hold the ladies of 
Ferrara for good and tasty morsels, whence hath come 
the saying, potto, ferraresa, just as they say, cazzo man- 
tuano (a Mantua verge). As to this, when once a great 
Lord of that country was making court to a great and 
beauteous Princess of France, and they were all com- 
mending him at Court for his excellent merits, valiance 
and the high qualities which did make him deserving of 
her favours, there was one, the late M. d'Au, 2 Captain of 
the Scottish Guards, which did come nearer the point 
than any with these words, "Nay ! you do forget the chief 
of all, his cazzo mantuano to wit." 

I did once hear a like speech, how when the Duke of 
Mantua, which was nicknamed the Gobin (Hunchback), 
because he was excessively hunchbacked, was desirous of 



wedding the sister of the Emperor Maximilian, the lady 
was told that he was so sadly deformed. But she only 
made answer, as 'tis said: Non importa purche la cam- 
pana habbia qualche diffetto, ma ch' el sonaglio sia buono 
("No matter if the bell have some flaw, provided the clap- 
per be good"), meaning thereby this same cazzo man- 
tuano. Some indeed aver she did never say the thing at 
all, seeing she was too modest and well brought up ; but at 
any rate others did say it for her. 

But to return to this same Princess of Ferrara, I did 
see her at the marriage of the late M. de Joyeuse appear 
clad in a mantle of the Italian fashion, the sleeves drawn 
back half way up the arms in the Siennese mode. But 
there was no lady there which could outshine her, and no 
man but said: "This fair Princess cannot make herself 
any fairer, so fair is she already. And 'tis easy to judge 
by her beauteous face that she hath other hidden beauties 
of great charm and parts which are not seen. Just as by 
looking at the noble fa9ade of a fine building, 'tis easy to 
judge that within there be fair chambers, antechambers 
and closets, fair alcoves and privy places." In many 
another spot likewise hath she displayed her beauty, and 
no long while since, in this autumn of her days, and espe- 
cially in Spain at the marriage of Monsieur and Madame 
de Savoie, in such wise that the admiration of her and 
her charms did remain graven in that land for all time. 
And if my pen had wings of power and range enough to 
raise her to the skies, right gladly would I devote it to 
the task; but 'tis too weak for such emprise. Yet will I 
speak of her again later. No doubt is there but this 
Princess was a very beautiful woman in her Springtide, 




her Summer and Autumn, yea ! and is still in her Winter, 
albeit she hath had many griefs and many children. 

The worst of it is that the Italians, scorning a woman 
which hath had a number of children, do call such an one 
scrofa, that is to say a "sow." But surely they which do 
bear handsome, gallant and noble sons, as did this Prin- 
cess, are praiseworthy, and do in no wise merit this ugly 
name, but rather that of heaven's favourites. 

I will only add this remark : What a strange and won- 
drous inconsistency is here, that the thing of all others 
most fickle and inconsistent doth offer such resistance to 
time, to wit a pretty woman! 'Tis not I which do say 
this; sorry should I be to do so. For truly I do esteem 
highly the constancy of many of the sex, nor are all incon- 
stant. 'Tis from another I borrow the remark. 

I would gladly adduce the names of ladies of other 
lands, as well as of our own, that have still been fair in 
their Autumn and Winter; but for this while I will men- 
tion two only in this class. 

One is the good Queen Elizabeth of England, the which 
is reigning at this day, and who they tell me is as fair as 
ever. If this be true, I do hold her for a very fair and 
beauteous Princess ; for myself have seen her in her Sum- 
mertide and in her Autumn season. As for her Winter, 
she doth now approach near the same, if she be not there 
already ; for 'tis long ago I did see her, and the first time 
ever I saw her, I know what age they did give her then. 
I do believe what hath kept her so long in her prime of 
beauty is that she hath never been wed, nor borne the 
burden of marriage, the which is a very grievous one, 
above all when a woman hath many children. The said 
Queen is deserving of all praise on all accounts, were it 




not for the death of that gallant, beautiful and peerless 
Princess, the Queen of Scots, the which hath sore stained 
her good repute. 


HE second foreign Princess I shall name is the 
Marquise de Gouast, Donna Maria of Ara- 
gon, which lady myself have seen still very 
beautiful in her final season. And I will show 
this in an account, the which I will abridge all ever I can. 
After the death of King Henri 1 of France, one month 
later died also Pope Paul IV., 2 Caraffa, and it became 
needful for the election of a new Pope that all the Car- 
dinals should meet together. Amongst others there came 
from France the Cardinal de Guise, and did fare to Rome 
by sea with the King's galleys, whereof the General was 
Fran9ois de Lorraine, Grand Prior of France, brother 
of the said Cardinal, who did convoy him, as a good 
brother should, with a fleet of sixteen galleys. And they 
did make such good speed and with so fine a wind astern, 
as that they did arrive in two days and two nights at 
Civita Vecchia, and from there presently to Rome. But 
being come thither, the Grand Prior seeing they were not 
yet ready to proceed to the new election (and as a fact it 
was yet three months more a-doing), and that accord- 
ingly his brother could not at present return, and his 
galleys were but lying idle in port meantime, he did deter- 
mine to go on to Naples to see that town and spend his 
leisure there. 

So on his arrival, the Viceroy, at that time the Duke 
of Alcala, did receive him as if he had been a King. But 



before his actual arrival he did salute the town with a 
very fine salvo of artillery which did last a great while; 
and the same honour was repaid him by the town and its 
forts, so as you would have said the very heavens were 
strangely thundering during the said cannonade. And 
keeping his galleys in line of battle and review order, and 
at some distance to seaward, he did despatch in a skiff 
M. de 1'Estrange, a gentleman of Languedoc, a very dis- 
creet and honourable man, and one which could speak 
very gracefully, to the Viceroy, to the end he might not 
startle him, and to ask his leave (seeing that albeit we 
were at peace and on the best of terms we did come with 
all the terrors of war) to enter the harbour, for to see 
the town and visit the sepulchres of his ancestors which 
were there interred, and cast holy water upon them and 
make a prayer. 

This the Viceroy did accord very readily. Then did 
the Grand Prior advance and renew the salvo with as fine 
and furious a cannonade as before, both with the main- 
deck guns and his sixteen galleys and other pieces of ord- 
nance and with arquebus fire, in such wise that all his 
fleet was a mass of flame. So did he make entry most 
proudly to the mole, with standards and pennants flying, 
and dressed with flags of crimson silk, and his own of 
damask, and with all the galley-slaves clad in crimson 
velvet, and the soldiers of his body-guard the same, and 
wearing short cloaks covered with silver broidery. The 
commander of these was Captain Geoffroy, a Proven9al 
and a brave and gallant soldier. Altogether our French 
galleys were found of all right fine, swift and well careened 
and above all the "Ship Royal," to the which never a fault 




could be found ; for indeed this Prince was in all ways 
exceeding magnificent and right liberal. 

So being come to the mole in this gallant array, he did 
there land and all we his suite with him, at a spot where 
the Viceroy had commanded to have ready horses and 
coaches for to receive us and carry us to the town. And 
truly we did there find an hundred steeds, coursers, jen- 
nets, Spaniards, barbs and other horses, each finer than 
the other, with saddle-cloths of velvet all wrought with 
broidery, some silver and some gold. He that would ride 
a-horse did so, and he that preferred to go in a coach, 
found one ready, for there were a score there of the finest 
and richest, excellently horsed and drawn by the finest 
cattle ever seen. There too stood many great Princes 
and Lords, as well of the Kingdom of Naples as of Spain, 
which did welcome the Grand Prior most honourably on 
behalf of the Viceroy. On landing he did mount a Span- 
ish horse, the finest I have seen for many a long day, 
which the Viceroy did after present to him ; and did man- 
age him right well, and make him perform some brilliant 
curvets, as was much spoke of at the time. The Prince, 
who was a very good horseman, as good indeed as he was 
a seaman, did make a very fine show thus mounted ; and he 
did display his horse's paces to the best advantage, and 
in most graceful style, seeing he was one of the hand- 
somest Princes of his day, and one of the most pleasant 
and accomplished, and of a fine, tall and active figure, 
which is a rare thing with suchlike great personages. 
Thus was he conducted by all these Lords and many 
another noble gentleman to the Viceroy's Palace, where 
this last did await him and paid him all possible honour, 
and lodged him in his own house, and did feast him most 





sumptuously, both him and all his band. This he was 
well able to do, seeing he did profit him by twenty thou- 
sand crowns through this journey. We were, I daresay, 
a couple of hundred gentlemen that were with him, Cap- 
tain of galleys and others, and were lodged with most of 
the great Lords of the city, and that most sumptuously. 
First thing in the morning, on coming out from our 
chambers, we did find attendants so well appointed as that 
they would present themselves instantly to ask what we 
were fain to do, and whither we would go to take our 
pleasure. And if we did call for horses or coaches, in a 
moment, our wish was no sooner expressed than satisfied. 
So they would away at once to seek whatever mount we 
did crave, and all these so fine, rich and magnificent as 
might have contented a King; and then off on our way 
to take our day's pleasure, in such wise as each did pre- 
fer. In very fact were we well nigh spoiled by excess of 
enjoyment and all delights in that fair city; nor can we 
say there was any lack of such, for indeed I have never 
seen a town better supplied therewith in every sort. One 
alone was wanting, to wit the familiar converse, frank 
and free, with ladies of honour and repute, for of others 
there was enough and to spare. But the defect was well 
and wisely remedied for the time being by the complaisance 
of this same Marquise de Gouast, in whose honour is the 
present discourse writ. For she, being a right courteous 
lady and full of all honourable feeling, and well fitting 
the nobility of her house, having heard the high repute 
of the Grand Prior for all the perfections that were in 
him, and having seen him pass through the city on horse- 
back and recognized his worth, as is meet between folk of 
high station toward one another, with the magnanimity 



she did ever show in all things, did send one day a very 
honourable and well mannered gentleman of her attend- 
ance to greet the Prince from her, charging him to say, 
that if her sex and the custom of the country had suf- 
fered her to visit him, she would right gladly have come 
very readily to offer him her best services, as all the great 
Lords of the Kingdom had done. But she did beg him to 
take the will for the deed, offering him the use of her 
houses, castles and her best service in all things. 

The Grand Prior, who was courtesy itself, did thank 
her most heartily, as was but meet; and did send word 
how that he would come to kiss her hands straightway 
after dinner. And this he did not fail to do, accompanied 
by all of us gentlemen which were with him in his suite. 
We did find the Marquise in her guest hall along with her 
two daughters, Donna Antonina and Donna Hieronima, 
or was it Donna Joanna? for indeed I cannot say for 
sure, it having now slipped my memory, as well as many 
other fair dames and damsels, so richly apparelled and 
of such a charming grace as that I have never, outside 
our own Court of France and that of Spain, seen else- 
where a more beauteous band of fair ladies. 

Then did the Marquise salute the Grand Prior in the 
French fashion and did welcome him with every mark of 
honour; and he did return the same, even yet more hum- 
bly, con mas gran sosiego (with the very greatest re- 
spect), as they say in Spanish. Their discourse was for 
the present of mere commonplaces; while the rest of us, 
such as could speak Italian or Spanish, did accost the 
other ladies, whom we did find most honourable and gal- 
lant, and of very pleasing conversation. 

On our departure, the Marquise, having learned from 


4 . * . 4 . . . . . 44444 4 444 4 4 


the Grand Prior that he did purpose to make a stay of a 
fortnight in the place, said thus to him: "Sir, if at any 
time you know not what to do and are in lack of pastime, 
your coming hither will ever do me much honour, and you 
shall be most welcome, as it were at the house of your own 
lady mother; and I beg you to use the same precisely as 
though it were your own, neither more nor less. I have 
the good fortune to be loved and visited by honourable 
and fair dames of this Kingdom and city as much as any 
lady therein; and seeing your youth and merit do set 
you to love the conversation of honourable ladies, I will 
beseech them to resort hither yet more frequently than 
they do use, to bear you company and all the fair and 
noble gentlefolk which be with you. Here stand my two 
daughters, the which I will direct, albeit they are not so 
well accomplished as they should be, to bear you company 
after the French fashion, to wit to laugh, dance, play and 
talk freely, modestly and honourably, even as you do at 
the Court of France. And I would gladly enough offer 
myself for one; only 'twould be very irksome to a young 
Prince, handsome and gallant like yourself, to have to 
entertain an old woman, worn out, tiresome and unlovable 
such as I. For verily and indeed youth and age do 
scarce accord well together." 

These words the Grand Prior did straightway take 
objection to, assuring her that old age had gat no hold 
at all upon her, and that he would never hear of any such 
thing, but that her Autumn did overpass all the Spring- 
tides and Summers that were in that hall. And truly she 
did still seem a very handsome and very lovable woman, 
yea ! even more than her two daughters, pretty and young 
as these were. Yet was she then very nigh sixty good 



L\wy*m.vwpmvmx!Mi^/. ..-. . ...... : .. : . . ... ;..., 

years old. This little speech of the Prince did much 
pleasure the Marquise, as we could easily see by her 
laughing face and all her words and ways. 

We did leave her house exceeding delighted with the 
lady, and above all the Grand Prior himself, who had 
instantly fallen in love with her, as he did inform us. 
Little doubt then but this fair and honourable lady, and 
her fair band of attendant dames, did draw the Grand 
Prior to resort every day to her house; for indeed if we 
went not there after dinner, we did so in the evening. 
The Prince did take for mistress her eldest daughter, 
albeit he did better love the mother; but 'twas done per 
adumbrar la cosa, "to veil the matter." 

Tiltings at the ring were held in plenty, whereat the 
Grand Prior did bear away the prize, as well as many 
ballets and dances. In a word, the gay society he did 
enjoy was the cause of this, that whereas he had pur- 
posed to tarry but a fortnight, we were there for a good 
six weeks. Nor were we in any wise irked thereby, for 
we had likewise gotten us mistresses no less than our Gen- 
eral. Nay! we had certainly remained longer still, had 
not a courier come from the King, bringing him news of 
the breaking out of the war in Spain. For this cause he 
had to weigh anchor and carry his galleys from the 
Eastern shore to the Western, though in fact they did 
not cross over till eight months later. 

So had we to take leave of all these delightsome pleas- 
ures, and quit the good and gracious town of Naples ; and 
truly 'twas not without great sadness and many regrets 
to our General and all of us, but we were right sorry to 
leave a place where we had been so happy. 

At the end of some six years, or mayhap longer, when 





we were on our way to the succour of Malta, I was again 
at Naples and did make enquiry if the aforesaid fair lady 
were yet alive. I was told yes ! and that she was in that 
town. Instantly I made a point of going to see her ; and 
was immediately recognized by an old seneschal of her 
house, which did away to tell his mistress that I was fain 
to kiss her hands. She, remembering my name of Bour- 
deille, did summon me up to her chamber to see her. I 
found her keeping her bed, by reason of a slight rash she 
had on one of her cheeks. She did make me, I swear, a 
right excellent welcome. I did find her very little changed, 
and still so handsome a woman she might well have made 
any man commit a mortal sin, whether in will or deed. 

She did ask me eagerly for news of my late General 
the Grand Prior, and lovingly, and how he had died ; and 
saying she had been told how that he had been poisoned, 
did curse an hundred times over the wretch that had done 
the deed. I told her 'twas not so, and bade her disabuse 
her fancy of any such idea, informing her how he had died 
really of a treacherous and secret pleurisy he had caught 
at the battle of Dreux, where he had fought like a Cassar 
all day long. But at evening, after the last charge, being 
greatly heated by fight and a-sweat, and then withdraw- 
ing on a night of the most bitter hard frost, he was 
chilled to the bone. He did conceal his sickness, and died 
of it a month or six weeks afterward. 

She did manifest, both by words and manner, her deep 
regret for him. And note now, two or three years before 
this, he had despatched two galleys on a freebooting ex- 
pedition under the charge of Captain Beaulieu, one of 
the Lieutenants of his galleys. He had adopted the flag 
of the Queen of Scots, one which had never been seen or 





known in the Eastern seas, and which did cause folk much 
amaze; for 'twas out of the question to take that of 
France, because of the alliance with the Turks. Now 
the Grand Prior had given orders to the said Captain 
Beaulieu to land at Naples and pay a visit on his behalf 
to the Marquise de Gouast and her daughters, to which 
three ladies he did send by his hand an host of presents, 
all the little novelties then in vogue at the Court and 
Palace, in Paris and in France generally. Indeed this 
same noble Grand Prior was ever the soul of generosity 
and magnificence. This task Captain Beaulieu did not 
fail to perform, and did present all his master's gifts; 
himself was most excellently received, and rewarded by a 
fine present for his mission. 

The Marquise did feel such obligation for these gifts 
and for that he had continued to remember her, that she 
did tell me again and again how gratified she had been 
and how she had loved him yet more than afore for his 
goodness. Again for love of him, she did a graceful 
courtesy to a gentleman of Gascony, which was at that 
time an officer in the galleys of the Grand Prior. This 
gentleman was left behind, when we set sail, sick unto 
death. But so kind was fortune to him, that addressing 
himself to the said lady in his adversity, he was so well 
succoured of her that his life was saved. She did take 
him in her household, and did serve him so well, as that 
a Captaincy falling vacant in one of her Castles, she did 
bestow the same on him, and procured him to marry a 
rich wife to boot. 

None of the rest of us were aware what had become of 
the poor gentleman, and we deemed him dead. But lo ! at 
the time of this latter voyage to Malta, there was amongst 




us a gentleman, younger brother of him I spake of, which 
did one day in heedless talk tell me of the main occasion 
for his going abroad. This he said was to seek news of a 
brother of his that had formerly been in the service of 
the Grand Prior, and had tarried behind sick at Naples 
more than six years before and had never been heard of 
since. Then did I bethink me, and presently did make 
enquiry for news of him of the folk belonging to the Mar- 
quise. These told me of his good fortune, and I did at 
once inform the younger brother. The latter did thank 
me very heartily, and accompanied me to pay his respects 
to the said lady, who did take him into great favour also, 
and went to visit him at his lodging. 

Truly a pretty gratitude and remembrance of a friend- 
ship of old days, which remembrance she did still cher- 
ish, as I have said. For she did make me even better 
cheer than before, and did entertain me with tales of the 
old happy time and many other subjects, all which did 
make me to find her company very pleasant and agree- 
able. For she was of a good intelligence and bright wit, 
and an excellent talker. 

She did beseech me an hundred times over to take no 
other lodging or meal but* with her; but to this I would 
never consent, it not being my nature ever to be impor- 
tunate or "self-seeking. But I did use to go and visit her 
every day for the seven or eight days we did tarry there, 
and I was always most welcome, and her chamber ever 
open to me without any difficulty. 

When at last I bade her adieu, she did give me letters 
of recommendation to her son, the Marquis de Pescai're, 
General at that time in the Spanish army. Besides which, 
she did make me promise that on my return I would come 




jgi | j^^ak4tBi l fll&g!&tBy i ||tVM^ 

to see her, and take up my lodging in no other house but 

However so great was my ill luck that the galleys which 
did carry us did land us only at Terracina, from whence 
we hied to Rome, and I was unable to retrace my steps. 
Moreover I was fain at that time to join the wars in 
Hungary ; but being at Venice, we did learn the death of 
the great Sultan Soliman. 'Twas there I did curse my 
luck an hundred times over, for that I had not anyhow 
returned to Naples, where I should have passed my time 
to advantage. Indeed it may well be, that by favour of 
my lady the Marquise I should there have found some 
good fortune, whether by marriage or otherwise. For 
she did certainly do me the honour to like me well. 

I suppose my evil destiny willed it not so, but was de- 
termined to take me back again to France to be for ever 
unfortunate there. In this hath dame Fortune never 
showed me a favourable countenance, except only so far 
as appearances go and a fair repute as a good and gal- 
lant man of worth and honour. Yet goods and rank have 
I never gotten like sundry of my comrades, and even 
some of our lower estate, men I have known which would 
have deemed themselves happy if I had but spoke to them 
in a courtyard, or King's or Queen's apartment, or in 
hall, though only aside and over the shoulder. Yet to- 
day I do see these same fellows advanced and grown ex- 
ceeding big with the rapidity of pumpkins, though in- 
deed I do make but light of them and hold them no greater 
than myself and would not defer to any of them by so 
much as the length of my nail. 

Well, well! I may herein apply to myself the word 
which our Redeemer Jesus Christ did pronounce out of 



his own mouth, "a prophet hath no honour in his own 
country." Mayhap had I served foreign Princes as well 
as I have done mine own, and sought adventure among 
them as I have among those of our land, I should now be 
more laden with wealth and dignities than I actually am 
with years and vexations. Patience ! if 'tis my Fate hath 
spun it so, I do curse the jade; if 'tis my Princes be to 
blame, I do give them to all the devils, an if they be not 
there already! 

This doth end my account of this most honourable 
lady. She is dead, with an excellent repute as having 
been a right fair noble dame and having left behind her a 
good and generous line, as the Marquis eldest son, Don 
Juan, Don Carlos, Don Caesar d'Avalos, all which myself 
have seen and have spoke of them elsewhere. The daugh- 
ters no less have followed in their brothers' steps. And 
herewith I do terminate the main thread of my principal 




(This list is simply a selection from the many editions of 
the works of Brantome in French and German. There are 
also texts in Spanish and Italian. A complete bibliography 
would fill many pages and would not be essential to the 
present text.) 


Leyde, 1666, chez Sambix le jeune, 2 vol. in-12. Le titre 
portait. "Vies des dames galantes." 

Leyde, 1666, chez Jean de la Tourterelle, 2 vol. in-12. 
Le titre portait. "Memoires de messire Pierre de Bourdeille, 
seigneur de Brantome, contenans les vies des dames galantes 
de son temps." 

Leyde, 1722, chez Jean de la Tourterelle, 2 vol. in-12. 
Titre rouge et noir. Meme titre que dans 1'edition precedente 
et memes fautes. 

Londres, 1739, Wood et S. Palmer, 2 vol. in-12, titre 
rouge et noir. "Memoires de messire Pierre de Bourdeille, 
seigneur de Brantome, contenant les vies des dames galantes 
de son temps." Edition copiee sur les precedentes. 

La Haye, 1740, 15 vol. in-12. Cette edition est de Le 
Duchat, Lancelot et Prosper Marchand, et les remarques 
critiques ont servi aux editions posterieures. 

Londres, 1779, aux depens du libraire, 15 vol. in-8. 
"CEuvres du seigneur de Brantome, nouvelle edition conside- 
rablement augmentee, accompagnee de remarques historiques 
et critiques et distribute, dans un meilleur ordre." Les Dames 
galantes occupent les tomes III et IV. 

Paris, 1822, Foucault, 8 vol. in-8. "(Euvres completes 



du seigneur de Brantome, accompagnees de remarques his- 
toriques et critiques. Nouvelle edition collationnee sur les 
manuscrits de la Bibliotheque du Roi." (Monmerque). Les 
Dames galantes occupant le VII e vol. 

Paris, 1834, Ledoux, 2 vol. in-8. "Les Dames galantes, 
par le seigneur de Brantome, nouvelle edition avec une preface 
de M. Ph. Chasles." Edition qui a beaucop et mal profite 
de 1'edition precedente. 

Paris, 1841-1869, Gamier freres, 1 vol. in-18. Edition 
populaire plusieurs fois reimprimee et faite d'apres 1'edition 
de 1740. 

Paris, 1857, A. Delahays, 1 vol. in-12. "(Euvrei de 
Brantome, nouvelle edition revue d'apres les meilleurs textes, 
avec une preface historique et critique par H. Vigneau. Vies 
des Dames galantes." Edition faite d'apres les editions an- 
tericures. Les notes sont bonnes. 

II a etc fait une nouvelle edition de ce travail en 1857, 
chez Delahays, en in-18. 

Paris, 1876, Renouard, libraire de la Sbciete de 1'histoire 
de France. "(Euvres completes de Pierre de Bourdeille, 
seigneur de Brantome, publiees d'apres les manuscrits, avec 
variantes et fragments inedits, pour la Societe de 1'histoire de 
France, par Ludovic Lalanne. Tome neuvieme. Des Dames" 
(suite). Un gros vol. in-8 de 743 pages, titre non compris. 

Cette edition est la premiere qui indique les sources aux- 
quelles Brantome a puise ses historiettes. M. Lalanne n'a 
laisse aucunp assage sans une explication tojours courte et 
toujours substantielle. 

L'CEuvre du Seigneur de Brantome. "Vie des Dames ga- 
lantes." Introduction and notes by B. de Villeneuve. Paris, 

Les Dames galantes. Publiees d'apres les manuscrits 
de la Bibliotheque Nationale, par Henri Bouchot. 2 vols. 
E. Flammarion. Paris. (A very fine edition.) 

Brantome: Das Leben der Galanten Damen. (Diony- 




sos-Biicherei). Introduction by George Harsdorfer. 2 vols. 
Berlin. (The best German edition.) 

Brantome: Lives of Fair and Gallant Ladies. Trans- 
lated from the original by A. R. Allinson. 2 vols. Paris. 
Carrington. 1902. 



Like Montaigne, Brantome pretended to be careless of 
literary fame, but in reality took every pains to secure it; 
like Montaigne he loved digressions, gaillardes escapades, 
from his main theme; like Montaigne he has drawn for us, 
though in his case unconsciously, a portrait of himself; like 
Montaigne he was curious of information, fond of travel and 
books. But these points of similarity are after all super- 
ficial; the difference is fundamental. While Montaigne 
tested the world and society by the light of his shrewd com- 
mon sense, Brantome accepted them without question or 
reflexion. Montaigne was essentially a thinker, Brantome 
was merely a reporter; Montaigne was a moralist, for Bran- 
tome the word morality had no meaning. Montaigne criticised 
his age, Brantome reflected it. That indeed is Brantome's 
chief value, that he reflects his age like a mirror, but it must 
be added that he reflects chiefly its more trivial, not to say its 
more scandalous side. He is the Suetonius of the French 

Pierre de Bourdeille, "reverend father in God, abbe de Bran- 
tome," belonged to a noble and ancient family of Perigord. 
The precise date of his birth is uncertain, but it must be 
placed somewhere between 1539 and 1542. He spent his 
childhood with his grandmother, Louise de Vivonne, wife of 
the seneschal of Poitou, at the court of Margaret of Navarre, 
and after studying first at Paris and then at Poitiers, travelled 
for more than a year in Italy, returning to France at the be- 
ginning of 1560, when he made his first appearance at the 
court. Though he already held other benefices besides the 



abbey from which he took his title, he was not in orders. The 
next fourteen years were spent by him either in fighting on 
the Catholic side in the religious wars, or in attendance at the 
court, or in travel. In 1574 his military career came to an 
end, for his duties as gentleman of the chamber, to which 
post he had been appointed in 1568, kept him at court, frivo- 
lous, idle, and discontented. At last the refusal of Henry 
III. to bestow on him the promised post of governor of Peri- 
gord filled him with such fury that he determined to enter 
the service of Spain. But a fall from his horse, which kept 
him in bed for four years (1583-1587), saved him from being 
a renegade to his country and turned him into a man of letters. 

For it was during this forced inactivity, apparently in 
1584, that he began his literary labours, which he continued 
for the next thirty years, most of which he spent on his 
estate. He died in 1614, leaving a will of portentous length, 
in which, among other things, he charged his heirs to have 
his works printed en belle et grand lettre et grand volume. 
The charge was neglected, and it was not till 1665-1666 that 
an incomplete and defective edition was published at Leyden, 
in the Elzevir form. Previous to this, however, several copies 
had been made of his manuscripts, and Le Laboureur in his 
edition of Castelnau's Memoirs, published in 1659, had print- 
ed long extracts. 

Brantome was a disappointed man when he wrote his 
memoirs. He had been an assiduous courtier for a quarter 
of a century and had gained nothing by it, while he had seen 
men whose merits he believed to be inferior to his rise to 
wealth and honour. But though he had the love of frivolity 
and the moral indifference of a true courtier, he had not his 
pliability. "He was violent," says Le Laboureur, "difficult to 
live with and of a too unforgiving spirit." Perhaps the best 
thing that can be said in his favour is that among his most 
intimate friends were two of the most virtuous characters of 
their time, Teligny, the son-in-law of Coligny, and Teligny's 




brother-in-law, Fran9ois de la Noue. Among his other friends 
were Louis de Berenger, seigneur du Guast, who was assassi- 
nated by order of Marguerite de Valois, and above all Filippo 
Strozzi, the son of Piero Strozzi, who was his friend for over 
twenty years, and who exercised over him considerable influ- 

The names by which Brantome's writings are generally 
known are not those which he himself gave them. Thus the 
titles Dames illustres and Dames galantes are an invention of 
the Leyden publisher for the Premier et Second livre des 
Dames. The other main division of his writings, Hommes, 
consisted in Brantome's manuscript of two volumes, the first 
containing the Grands capitaines, French and Spanish, and 
the second Les couronnels, Discours sur les duels, Rodomon- 
tades espagnoles, and a separate account of La Noue. His 
original manuscript was completed while Margaret was still 
the wife of Henry IV., that is to say before November, 1599, 
but some time after her divorce he made a carefully revised 
copy. It is upon this copy that the text of M. Lalanne's edi- 
tion is based for the first five volumes. 

Regarded strictly as biographies Brantome's lives have 
slender merit, for the majority give one little or no idea of 
the character of the persons treated. He is at least success- 
ful with those who had in them elements of real greatness, 
such as Coligny and Conde. Even the long life of Francois 
de Guise, though it contains some interesting and valuable 
information, throws little light on Guise himself. But he 
gives us good superficial portraits of Charles IX., Catharine 
de Medici, and the Constable de Montmorency, while several 
of the minor lives, such as Brissac and his brother Cosse, 
Matignon, and Mary of Hungary, are not only amusing but 
hit off the characters with considerable success. One of the 
most entertaining is the unfinished account of his father. On 
the other hand the account of Margaret of Valois, though it 
contains some interesting details, is too ecstatic in its open- 



mouthed admiration to have any value as a biography. The 
conclusion of the account of Monluc may be quoted not only 
for its reference to Monluc's conversational powers, but as 
throwing light on Brantome's own character. 

Much of the interest of Brantome's book is to be found in 
his numerous digressions, for which he is constantly apolo- 
gizing. Thus in the middle of the account of Montmorency 
we have a laudatory sketch of Michel de 1'Hospital, in that 
of Tavannes a digression on the order of St. Michael, in that 
of Bellegarde an account of his own treatment by Henry III. 
The digressions are frequently made occasions for amusing 
stories, which, like Montaigne's, are distinguished from such 
as Bouchet and Beroalde de Verville collected, in that they 
generally illustrate some trait of human character. 

Like Montaigne again, Brantome copies freely and without 
acknowledgment from books. Whole pages are taken from 
Le loyal serviteur, stories are borrowed from Rabelais, Des 
Periers, and the Heptameron, as well as from most of the 
writers dealt with in the last chapter. But Brantome, unlike 
Montaigne, tries to conceal his thefts by judicious alterations, 
or by pretending that he heard the story himself, or even that 
he was a witness of the event related. J'ai ouy conter and 
J'ai vu are frequently in his mouth. He was doubtless chiefly 
influenced in these endeavours to conceal his borrowings by 
the same form of vanity as Montaigne, the desire to be 
regarded, not as a man of letters, but as a gentleman who 
amused himself by putting down his reminiscences on paper. 
It is for this reason that he tries to give a negligent and con- 
versational air to his style. The result is that he is often 
ungrammatical and sometimes obscure. Yet his style, at any 
rate in the eyes of a foreigner, has considerable merit, and 
chiefly from its power of vivid presentment. For Brantome, 
like other Gascons, like Montaigne and Monluc and Henry 
IV., saw things vividly and can make his readers see them. 
He has a store of expressive words and phrases such as un peu 




hommasse (of Mary of Hungary). A noticeable feature of 
his style is his love of Italian and Spanish words, reflecting 
in this, as in other features, the prevailing fashion of the 

Brantome's keen enjoyment of the world pageantry was 
seldom disturbed by inconvenient reflexion. His only quarrel 
with society was that the ruling powers were blind to his own 
merits. He thought the duel, even in the treacherous and 
bloodthirsty fashion in which it was then carried on, an 
excellent institution, and at the end of his account of Coligny 
he inserts an elaborate disquisition on the material benefits 
which the religious wars had conferred on France. All classes 
had profited, nobles, clergy, magistrates, merchants, artisans. 

And all this is said in sober earnest, without a suspicion of 
irony. One might at any rate give Brantome credit for orig- 
inality had he not told us at the outset that this was the sub- 
stance of a conversation which he overheard at Court between 
two great persons, one a soldier and the other a statesman, 
and both excellent Catholics. Brantome was the echo as well 
as the mirror of the Court. 

Brantome's glowing panegyric on Margaret of Valois in- 
duced that virtuous princess to write her memoirs, partly in 
order to supplement his account of her, partly to correct a 
few errors into which he had fallen. It is to Brantome accord- 
inly that her memoirs are addressed. They were written about 
the year 1597 in the chateau of Usson in Auvergne, where she 
had resided, nominally as a prisoner, since 1687. 

[From The Literature of the French Renaissance, Vol. II. 1904.] 



The complement and counterpart of this moralising 1 on 
human business and pleasure is necessarily to be found in 
chronicles of that business and that pleasure as actually pur- 
sued. In these the sixteenth century is extraordinarily rich. 
Correspondence had hardly yet attained the importance in 
French literature which it afterwards acquired, but professed 
history and, still more, personal memoirs were largely written. 
The name of Brantome has been chosen as the central and 
representative name of this section of writers, because he is 
on the whole the most original and certainly the most famous 
of them. His work, moreover, has more than one point of 
resemblance to that of the great contemporary author (Mon- 
taigne) with whom he is linked at the head of this chapter. 
Brantome neither wrote actual history nor directly personal 
memoirs, but desultory biographical essays, forming a curious 
and perhaps designed pendant to the desultory moral essays 
of his neighbour Montaigne. Around him rank many writers, 
some historians pure and simple, some memoir-writers pure 
and simple, of whom not a few approach him in literary 
genius, and surpass him in correctness and finish of style, 
while almost all exceed him in whatever advantage may be 
derived from uniformity of plan, and from regard to the de- 
cencies of literature. 

Pierre de Bourdeille (s) (who derived the name by which 
he is, and indeed was during his lifetime, generally known 
from an abbacy given to him by Henri II. when he was still 
a boy) was born about 1540, in the province of Perigord, but 

i Referring to Montaigne's Essays. 




the exact date and place of his birth have not been ascertained. 
He was the third son of Francois, Comte de Bourdeilles, and 
his mother, Anne de Vivonne de la Chataigneraie, was the 
sister of the famous duelist whose encounter with Jarnac his 
nephew has described in a well-known passage. In the court 
of Marguerite d'Angouleme, the literary nursery of so great 
a part of the talent of France at this time, he passed his early 
youth, went to school at Paris and at Poitiers, and was made 
Abbe de Brantome at the age of sixteen. He was thus suf- 
ficiently provided for, and he never took any orders, but was 
a courtier and a soldier throughout the whole of his active 
life. Indeed almost the first use he made of his benefice was 
to equip himself and a respectable suite for a journey into 
Italy, where he served under the Marechal de Brissac. He 
accompanied Mary Stuart to Scotland, served in the Spanish 
army in Africa, volunteered for the relief of Malta from the 
Turks, and again for the expedition destined to assist Hun- 
gary against Soliman, and in other ways led the life of a 
knight-errant. The religious wars in his own country gave 
him plenty of employment; but in the reigns of Charles IX. 
and Henri III. he was more particularly attached to the suite 
of the queen dowager and her daughter Marguerite. He was, 
however, somewhat disappointed in his hopes of recompense; 
and after hesitating for a time between the Royalists, the 
Leaguers, and the Spaniards, he left the court, retired into 
private life, and began to write memoirs, partly in conse- 
quence of a severe accident. He seems to have begun to 
write about 1594, and he lived for twenty years longer, dying 
on the 15th of July, 1614. 

The form of Brantome's works is, as has been said, peculiar. 
They are usually divided into two parts, dealing respectively 
with men and women. The first part in its turn consists of 
many subdivisions, the chief of which is made up of the Vies 
des Grand Capitaines Etrangers et Franpais, while others 
consist of separate disquisitions or essays, Des Rodomontades 



Espagnoles, "On some Duels and Challenges in France" and 
elsewhere, "On certain Retreats, and how they are sometimes 
better than Battles," etc. Of the part which is devoted to 
women the chief portion is the celebrated Dames Galantes, 
which is preceded by a series of Vies des Dames Illustres, 
matching the Grands Capitaines. The Dames Galantes is 
subdivided into eight discourses, with titles which smack of 
Montaigne. These discourses are, however, in reality little 
but a congerie of anecdotes, often scandalous enough. Be- 
sides these, his principal works, Brantome left divers Opus- 
cula, some of which are definitely literary, dealing chiefly 
with Lucan. None of his works were published in his life- 
time, nor did any appear in print until 1659. Meanwhile 
manuscript copies had, as usual, been multiplied, with the 
result, also usual, that the text was much falsified and muti- 

The great merit of Brantome lies in the extraordinary vivid- 
ness of his powers of literary presentment. His style is 
careless, though it is probable that the carelessness is not 
unstudied. But his irregular, brightly coloured, and easily 
flowing manner represents, as hardly any age has ever been 
represented, the characteristics of the great society of his 
time. It is needless to say that the morals of that time were 
utterly corrupt, but Brantome accepts them with a placid 
complacency which is almost innocent. No writer, perhaps, 
has ever put things more disgraceful on paper; but no writer 
has ever written of such things in such a perfectly natural 
manner. Brantome was in his way a hero-worshipper, though 
his heroes and heroines were sometimes oddly coupled. Bay- 
ard and Marguerite de Valois represent his ideals, and a 
good knight or a beautiful lady de par le monde can do no 
wrong. This unquestioning acceptance of, and belief in, the 
moral standards of his own society give a genuineness and a 
freshness to his work which are very rare in literature. Few 
writers, again, have had the knack of hitting off character, 



superficially it is true, yet with sufficient distinction, which 
Brantome has. There is something individual about all the 
innumerable characters who move across his stage, and some- 
thing thoroughly human about all, even the anonymous men 
and women, who appear for a moment as the actors in some 
too frequently discreditable scene. With all this there is a 
considerable vein of moralising in Brantome which serves to 
throw up the relief of his actual narratives. He has some- 
times been compared to Pepys, but, except in point of garrulity 
and of readiness to set down on paper anything that came into 
their heads, there is little likeness between the two. Bran- 
tome was emphatically an ecrivain (unscholarly and Italian- 
ised as his phrase sometimes appears, if judged by the stand- 
ards of a severer age), and some of the best passages from 
his works are among the most striking examples of French 

[From A Short History of French Literature. 6th Ed. Oxford. 




P. V: The Due d'Alencon was later called the Due d'Anjou. 
He died at Ch&teau-Thierry, on Sunday, June 10, 1584, from dysen- 
tery, which had almost reduced him to a shadow. Nevers, in his 
Memoir es (Vol. I, p. 91), maintains that he was poisoned by a maid 
of one of his mistresses. According to L'Estoile's account, the Duke 
was given a magnificent funeral in Paris. He was by no means 
handsome; his pimpled and deformed nose earned for him an epi- 
gram during his expedition in Flanders : 

Flamands, ne soyez estonnez 
Si a Francois voyez deux nez: 
Car par droit, raison et usage, 
Faut deux nez a double visage. 

P. VIII: Pierre de Bourdeille, Seigneur de PAbbaye de Brantdme. 
Was born in P6rigord, 1527; died 1614. Of an old and distinguished 
family. Served his apprenticeship to war under the famous Captain 
Francois de Guise. Later Gentleman of the Chamber to two French 
Kings in succession, Charles IX. and Henri III., being high in 
favour with the latter; Chamberlain to the Due d'Alengon. As 
soldier or traveller visited most parts of Europe; intimate with 
many of the most famous men of his day, including the poet 
Ronsard. Some time after the death of Charles IX. he retired 
(disappointed apparently by a diminution of Court favour, and 
suffering from the results of a serious accident due to a fall from 
his horse) to his estates in Guyenne, where he employed his leisure 
in the composition of a number of voluminous works based on 
reminiscences of the active period of his life. 

These are: 

Vies des Homines illustres et grands Capitaines frangais, 
Vies des Grands Capitaines Strangers, 
Viet des Dames illustres, 
Vies des Dames galantes, 
Anecdotes touchant des Duels, 
Rodomontades et Jurements espagnols, 
and sundry fragments. 





Souvent femme varie, 
Bien fol qui s'y fie! 

(Woman is changing ever; fool the man who trusts her!) 

P. 3: The word which Moliere popularized does not date from 
that time; it was used much earlier, and in the thirteenth century 
we see a man pay a fine of twenty ounces of gold for calling an 
unfortunate husband coucou (cuckold). (Uaatica regni Majorici, 
Anno 1248.) About the middle of the fifteenth century, in a letter 
of remission to a guilty fellow, we find this curious remark: "Cogul, 
which is the same (in the vernacular) as coulz or couppault, is one 
of the vilest insults to be thrust at a married man." At times the 
word coux was used: 

Suis-je mis en la confrairie 

Saint Arnoul le seignenur des Coux. 

But it was just about the fifteenth century that the confusion ap- 
peared between this word and the bird of April (cuckoo) ; the word 
coucou (cuckoo), which had been explained by a fable, merely imi- 
tated the cry, whereas the word cocu (cuckold) had been derived from 
the early Low Latin cugus. "Couquou, thus named after its manner 
of singing and because it is famed for laying its eggs in the nests of 
other birds ; so, inconsistently, he is called a cocu (cuckold) in whose 
nest another man comes." (Bouchet, Series.) There is also a play 
by Passerat on the metamorphosis of a cuckoo which is worth men- 
tioning. (Bib. Nat., manuscrit f ratals, 22565, f 24 v.) 

P. 4: In the present work the Author constantly uses the words 
belle et honneste (fair and honourable) to describe such and such a 
lady, of whom at the same time he speaks as being an unmitigated 
whore. But when he adds, as he does sometimes, vertueuse 
(virtuous) to belle et honneste, he implies by this that the lady was 
chaste and modest, and raised no talk about herself. 

P. 7: The prothonotary Baraud was one of those churchmen of 
whom Brantome says elsewhere: "It was customary at the time that 
prothonotaries, even those of good families, should scarcely be 
learned, but give themselves up to pleasure," etc. 

P. 10: Cosimo de Medici, who had his wife Eleonora de Toledo 
poisoned. The daughter of whom Brantome speaks was Isabella, 



whom he married to Paolo Orsini, the Duke of Bracciano. But 
Cosimo had too marked an affection for this daughter; although she 
was married, he insisted that she live in Florence and remain with 
him. Vasari, who painted for the Medici one of the arches of the 
Palazzo Vecchio, one day surprised the father and the daughter, and 
recounts the strange adventure which he witnessed. After the death 
of Cosimo, Paolo Orsini called Isabella to his apartment, and there, 
according to Litta, "with a rope around her neck coldly strangled her 
on the night of July 16, 1576, in the act of consummating the mar- 
riage." (Medici, t, IV, tavola xiv.) That unhappy woman was one 
of the most marvellous of her time: beautiful, cultured, musical, she 
had all the brilliant advantages of the mind and of the body. Mean- 
while, she had had as a lover Troilo Orsini, who was attached to her 
husband as a bodyguard, and who was assassinated in France, where 
he had retired. 

P. 10: Louis de Clermont de Bussy d'Amboise was born towards 
the middle of the XVIth Century, and took an active part in the 
Massacre of Saint Bartholomew. On that occasion, profiting by the 
confusion, he murdered his kinsman Antoine de Clermont, with 
whom he was at law for the possession of the Marquisat de Renel. 
Having obtained from his patron the Due d'Anjou the governorship 
of the Castle of Angers, he made himself the terror of the country- 
side. Letters of his addressed to the wife of the Comte de Montso- 
reau, whom he was endeavouring to seduce, having fallen into 
Charles IX.'s hands, were by him shown to the husband. The latter 
forced his wife to write a reply to her lover appointing a rendez- 
vous. On his appearing there, Montsoreau and a band of armed 
men fell upon and despatched him (1579). The comment of the 
historian de Thou is in these words: "The entire Province was 
overjoyed at Bussy's death, while the Duke of Anjou himself was 
not sorry to be rid of him." [Transl.] 

P. 11: Rene de Villequier, Baron de Clairvaux, murdered his first 
wife, Francoise de la Marck, in cold blood, in 1677 at the Castle of 
Poitiers, where the Court was residing. He killed at the same time 
a young girl who was holding a mirror before her mistress at the 
moment. According to some authorities he acted on the suggestion 
of the king, Henri III. At any rate he got off with absolute 
impunity, and within a very short time after was decorated by his 
Sovereign with the Order of the St. Esprit. [Transl.] 

P. 12: Sampietro, the famous soldier of fortune, and commander 





of the Italian troops under the French Kings Francis I. and Henri 
II., was born near Ajaccio in Corsica in 1501. He was of humble 
birth, but his many brilliant feats of war made him celebrated 
throughout Europe. He actually strangled his wife, Vanina, a 
lady of good family, but not in consequence of such misconduct on 
her part as Brantome represents. The real circumstances were as 
follows. Sampietro having attempted to raise his Corsican com- 
patriots in revolt against the Genoese, he was imprisoned and all 
but put to death by the latter. This roused in him so implacable 
a hatred of the Genoese State, that on learning that his wife during 
his absence at Constantinople had condescended to implore his 
pardon from the Genoese, he deliberately put her to death in the 
way described. He was himself eventually murdered, being treach- 
erously stabbed in the back by his Lieutenant and friend Vitelli 
at the instigation of his Genoese enemies. [Transl.] 

P. 12: This is another allusion to Paolo Orsini, Duke of Bracciano, 
who could not overtake Troilo Orsini, and killed Isabella that he 
might marry Vittoria Accoramboni, whose husband he had assassi- 
nated. (Litta, Orsini, t, VII, tav. XXIX.) 

P. 15: The Avalos family originally came from Spain, and gave 
Italy the Marquis de Pescaire, one of the greatest captains of the 
sixteenth century. It is of him that Brantome speaks as the vice- 
roy. Maria d'Avalos was married to Carlos Gesualdo, prince of 
Venousse, and was the niece of this Marquis de Pescaire and of Del 
Guasto, whom Brantdme describes as "dameret" (foppish) to such 
a degree that he perfumed the saddles of his horses. He was the one 
who lost the battle of Consoles in 1544. 

P. 16: Iliad, Bk. Ill, 

P. 16: Paul de Caussade de Saint-M6grin, favorite of the king, 
was killed on leaving the Louvre by a band of assassins led by 
Mayenne. He was the lover of Catherine de Cleves, Duchess de 
Guise. Henri IV., then king of Navarre, who had good reasons not 
to like favorites, says apropos of this: "I am thankful to the Due 
de Guise for refusing to tolerate that a bed favorite like Saint-Megrin 
should make him a cuckold. This treatment ought to be meted out 
to all the little court gallants who try to approach the princesses with 
the aim of making love to them." 

P. 17: Francoise de Saillon, married to Jacques de Rohan. She 
was saved by a miracle, says Jean Bourdigne's chronicle, in 1526. 




P. 17: Brantdme refers to Francoise de Foix, Chateaubriant's lady, 
regarding whom an old pamphlet of 1606 says as follows: "She could 
do what she desired, and she desired many things that she ought not 
to at all. During her lifetime, her husband was ever afflicted and 
tormented." (Factum pour M. le connestable contre Madame de 
Guise, 1606.) That is also the opinion of Gaillard in his Huttoire d 
Franqoise /er, t. VII, p. 179, in the 1769 edition, who sees in this 
passage an allusion to Mme. de Chateaubriant. 

P. 17: Jean de Bourdigne, author of Hittoire agrtgative det 
Annales et Chroniques d'Anjou et du Maine (Angers, 1529, fol.), was 
born at Angers. He was a priest and Canon of the Cathedral of his 
native town. The book is very rare; as a history it is almost 
worthless, being full of the wildest fables. 

P. 17: Francis I. king of France, 1515-1547. 

P. 21: Philip II. had his wife Isabelle de Valois poisoned; he 
suspected her of adultery with Don Carlos, his son of a former 

P. 22: Louis X., surnamed le Hutin, had caused his wife Mar- 
guerite de Bourgogne to be strangled at the Chateau-Gaillard. She 
had been imprisoned there in 1314. As to Gaston II., of Foix, out- 
raged by the life of debauch Jeanne d'Artois (his mother) led, he 
obtained from Philippe de Valois an order of internment in 1331. 

P. 22: Anne Boleyn, who was the cause of the Anglican schism. 
The king had had her beheaded because of her infidelity and married 
Jane Seymour. As to the charge of which Brantdme speaks, Henry 
VIII. was so keen on that matter that he had caused Catherine How- 
ard to be beheaded because he had not been quite convinced of her 

P. 23: Baldwyn II., cousin and successor of the first Baldwyn, 
king of Jerusalem, brother of Godfrey de Bouillon, reigned from 
1119 to 1131. Brantome is mistaken here. Baldwyn II. had married 
Morphie, daughter of Prince de Melitine; but he had not been for- 
merly married. Does he wish to speak of Baudoin Ire, who repudi- 
ated the daughter of the Prince d'Armenie and then Adele de Mon- 
ferrat? (Cf. Guillaume de Tyr, liv. II, c. xv.) 

P. 23: Read Melitene; this is how the Ancients named this town, 





the modern name of which is Meletin, in Latin Malatia; in Armenia, 
on the Euphrates. 

P. 23: History of the Holy Land; by William of Tyre. 

P. 23: Louis VII. succeeded his father, Louis le Gros, on the 
throne of France 1137, and died 1180. His wife, whom he divorced 
soon after his return from the Holy Land, whither she had accom- 
panied him, was Eleanore of Guienne. This divorce was very painful 
to Louis VII., surnamed le Jeune, because he had to give up the 
duchy of Aquitaine and cast off the beautiful equestrian seal which 
he had had engraved for himself in his rank as duke. 

P. 24: Suetonius, Caesar, Chap. VI. Brant6me is thinking of 
Clodius; but Cicero never made the speech in question. 

P. 24: BrantSme (Lalanne edition, t. VIII, p. 198) repeats this 
anecdote without giving further details. 

P. 25: Fulvia. (Sallust, Chap. XXIII.) 

P. 25: Octavius (Augustus), first Roman Emperor, was the son of 
C. Octavius, by Atia, a daughter of Julia, the sister of Julius 
Csesar. He was therefore the grand-nephew of the latter, the 
founder of the Empire and virtual, though not nominal, first 
Emperor. He married Livia after his divorce of Scribonia. 

P. 26: Caligula, the third Roman Emperor, A. D. 37-41. His name 
was Caius Caesar, Caligula being properly only a friendly nickname, 
"Little Boots," bestowed on him as a boy by the soldiers in his 
father, Germanicus' camp in Germany, where he was brought up. 
He was inordinately cruel and licentious and madly extravagant. 
Eventually murdered. 

P. 26: Brantome does not appear to know very well the persons 
he is speaking of here: I lost ill a is Orestilla; Tullia is Lollia; Her- 
culalina is Urgulanilla. 

P. 27: Claudius, the fourth Roman Emperor, A.D. 41-54. The 
notorious Messalina was his third wife. For a lurid picture of her 
immoralities see Juvenal's famous Sixth Satire. 

P. 28: Giovanni Boccaccio, the author of the Decameron, was born 



at Paris in 1313, being the (illegitimate) son of a wealthy merchant 
of Florence. He died 1375 at Certaldo, a village near Florence, the 
original seat of the family. 

P. 28: Does the following chanson refer to the same woman? 

On void Simonne 
Proumener aux bordeaux 
Matin, soir, nonne, 
Avec ses macquereaux. 

(Bib. Nat., ms. frangais 22565, f 41 v.) 

P. 28: This is indeed one of the most curious passages of the 
book, and I am glad to remove one of Lalanne's doubts. BrantSme 
is really talking of a statue, an antique piece which was found July 21, 
1594, in a field near the Saint-Martin priory. It had been admirably 
conserved. Unfortunately, Louis XIV. having claimed it later, it 
was placed on a barge which sank in the Garonne, and was never re- 
covered. (O'Reilly, History of Bordeaux, 1863, Vol. II.) The statue 
is described as having had one breast uncovered and curled hair, a 
description that agrees only partly with Visconti's type (Icono- 
graphie romaine, t. II., planche 28), in which Messalina is not decol- 
lete and carries her son. Was the Bordeaux statue indeed a Messa- 

P. 31: Brantome is mistaken; Nero caused Octavia to be killed. 
(See Suetonius, Nero, Chap. XXXV.) 

P. 31 : Nero, fifth Roman Emperor, A. D. 54-63. 

P. 31 : Domitian succeeded his father Titus on the Imperial throne ; 
reigned from A. D. 81 to 96. 

P. 31: Pertinax, a man of peasant birth, but who had carved out 
for himself a distinguished career as soldier and administrator, was 
elected Emperor by the Praetorian Guards on the murder of Corn- 
modus, A. D. 193. Himself murdered after a two months' reign. 

P. 32: Septimius Severus, Emperor from A.D. 193 to 211. He was 
a great general and conducted successful campaigns in Britain, 
where he died, at York. 

P. 33: Philippe Auguste, King of France 1180-1223. Philip Au- 


iHBfflaMifta^^ nlr< H|M'H|I< nhoibag 


gustus repudiated Ingeburga after twenty-eight days of marriage, 
and married Agnes de Me>anie. The censure of the church induced 
the king to discard the second marriage and return to Ingeburga 
(1201). The latter was reputed to have a secret vice which greatly 
angered the king. 

P. 34: Marguerite, daughter of the Archduke Maximilian, whom 
Charles VIII. rejected in order to marry Anne of Brittany (1491). 
Louis XII. turned away Jeanne in order to marry the widow of 
Charles VIII. 

P. 34: Charles VIII., 1483-1498, of the House of Valois. 

P. 34: Louis XII., successor of the last named, reigned 1498-1515, 
the immediate predecessor of Francis I. 

P. 35: Alfonso V., king of Aragon, who left maxims which were 
collected by Antonio Beccadelli, surnamed Panormita. 

P. 35: Twenty-second tale. M. de Bernage was equerry of King 
Charles VIII. and the lord of Civray, near Chenonceaux. 

P. 36: It is not Semiramis, but Thomyris, who, according to Jus- 
tin (Bk. I.) and Herodotus (Bk. II.), thrust the head of Cyrus into 
a vat of blood. Xenophon says, on the contrary, that Cyrus died 
a natural death. 

P. 40: Albert de Gondy, Duke de Ret/, was reputed as a prac- 
titioner of Aretino's principles. His wife, Claudine Catherine de Cler- 
mont, deserved, perhaps wrongfully, to occupy a place in the pamphlet 
entitled: "Bibliotheque de Mme. de Montpensier." 

P. 41: Elephantis is referred to by Martial and Suetonius as the 
writer of amatory works "molles Elephantidos libelli," but nothing 
is known of her otherwise. She was probably a Greek, not a Roman. 

P. 41: Heliogabalus, or Elagabalus, Emperor from A. D. 218 to 
222. Born at Emesa, and originally high-priest of Elagabalus the 
Syrian Sun-god. After a very short reign marked by every sort of 
extravagant folly, he was succeeded by Alexander Severus. 



P. 41: The Cardinal de Lorraine, Cardinal du Perron, and others, 
had been already represented in the same way along with Catherine de 
Medici, Mary Stuart and the Duchesse de Guise, in two paintings 
mentioned in the Legende du Cardinal de Lorraine, fol. 24, and in 
the Reveille-Matin des Franqais, pp. 11 and 123. 

P. 42: I agree with Lalanne that this prince was no other than 
the Duke d'Alencon. As to the fable of the coupling of the lions, it 
came from an error of Aristotle, which was repeated by most natural- 
ists until the eighteenth century. 

P. 45: Ronsard the poet was born 1524, being the son of Louis dc 
Ronsard, sieur de la Poissonniere, an officer in the household of 
King Francis I., and died 1586. He enjoyed an immense repu- 
tation in his lifetime, and was the favourite poet of Mary Queen of 
Scots. Her lover, the unfortunate Chastelard, read his Hymne d la 
mort on the scaffold, and refused any other book or confessor to 
prepare him for death. Originator and leading member of the 
famous Pleiade of Poets. 

P. 46: He was a Florentine, Luigi di Ghiaceti, who had grown 
rich by negotiating the taxes with the king. He married the beauti- 
ful Mile. d'Atri, and to please her he had bought for 400,000 francs 
the estate of Chateauvilain. Mme. de Chateauvilain was a model of 
virtue, if Brantome is to be believed; but we wonder, fully agreeing 
with the author of the notes to the Journal de Henri III., where this 
lady could have acquired her virtue was it at the court or at her 
husband's estate? Besides this gallery of pictures which is mentioned 
here, Louis Adjecet (the French form for Luigi Ghiaceti) had mis- 
tresses with whom he indulged in the low appetites of rich upstarts. 
He was killed in 1593 by an officer; and his wife withdrew to Lan- 
gres, where she lived with her children. 

P. 47: Ariosto, Orlando fwioso, canto XLII., stanza 98. 

Ecco un donzcllo a chi 1'ufficio tocca 

For su la mensa un bel nappo d'or fino . . . 

P. 47: Very likely Bernardin Turissan. Brantdme is perhaps 
referring to the Ragionamento della Nanna, printed in Paris in 1534, 
without the name of the publisher. The peggio must have been one 
of those infamous Italian books which the noblemen of the court 
wrangled over. The Nanna was well known at the French court 




(see Le Divorce satyrique, t. I. of the Journal de Henri III., 1720 
edition, p. 190). 

P. 47; Bernardino Turisan, who used as his sign the well-known 
mark of the Manutii, his kinsmen. 

P. 47: Pietro Aretino was born at Arezzo in Tuscany in 1492. The 
natural son of a plain gentleman he became the companion and 
proteg6 of Princes, and their unscrupulous and adroit flatterer. 
Friend of Michael Angelo and Titian. His works are full of learn- 
ing and wit, and obscenity. 

P. 48: This book, entitled La Somme des pech6s et leg remedes 
d'iceux (Compendium of all Sins, and the Remedies of the same), 
printed at Lyons, by Charles Pesnot c. 1584, 4to, and several times 
since, was compiled by Jean Benedict, a Cordelier monk of Brittany. 
He has filled it with filth and foulness as full as did the Jesuit San- 
chez his treatise De Matrimonio (on Marriage). It is a singular fact 
that a work so indecent should have been none the less dedicated 
to the Holy Virgin. As we see from the text, Brant6me and his 
fellows quite well understood how to turn such works to their 
advantage and find fresh stories of lubricity in their pages. 

P. 49: This Bonvisi, a Lyons banker, had had as receiver Field 
Marshal de Retz, the son of a Gondi, who had become a bankrupt in 
Lyons. (Notes of the Confession de Sancy, 1720 edition, t. II., p. 244.) 

P. 61: L. Aurelius Commodus (not Sejanus), Emperor A. D. 180- 
192, was the son of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius and Faustina. 
Annius Verus was his brother, and received the appellation of Caesar 
along with his elder brother in 166. 

P. 68: Antonomasia, properly. 

P. 60: The Sanzays were a family of Poitou who had settled in 
Brittany. Ren6 de Sanzay, head of the family at the time in question, 
had four sons: Rene, Christophe, Claude, and Charles. Ren6 con- 
tinued the line. Claude was his lieutenant in 1569, as colonel of his 
forces. Charles married and died only in 1646 (?). Christophe, the 
second son, was a prothonotary. It seems that Brantome had Claude 
in mind. Moreover, the constable of Montmorency having died in 
1568 and Claude having been a lieutenant of his brother in 1569, we 
may conjecture that the adventure of which Bran tonic speaks had 



happened to him previously, for the constable is concerned with his 
ransom. (Bib. Nat., Cabinet des titres, art. Sanzay.) 

P. 61 : Cicero, De officis, Bk. IV., Chap. ix. 

P. 61: The second son of Charles V.; he was assassinated at the 
Gate of Barbette, at the end of Rue Vieille-du-Temple, in 1407, by 
the orders of Jean Sans peur. He had had for a long time adulterous 
relations with his sister-in-law Isabeau de Baviere. The woman in 
question here was Marie d'Enghien, wife of Aubert de Cany and 
mother of the Batard d'Orleans. This anecdote has inspired several 
story-tellers, such as Bandello, Strappardo, Malespini, etc. See also 
the first of the Cents Nouvellea nouvelles. 

P. 61 : "Candaules was the last Heracleid king of Lydia. Accord- 
ing to the account of Herodotus, he was extremely proud of his wife's 
beauty, and insisted on exhibiting her unveiled charms, but without 
her knowledge, to Gyges, his favourite officer. Gyges was seen by 
the queen, as he was stealing from her chamber, and the next day 
she summoned him before her, intent on vengeance, and bade him 
choose whether he would undergo the punishment of death himself, 
or would consent to murder Candaules and receive the kingdom 
together with her hand. He chose the latter alternative, and became 
the founder of the dynasty of the Mermnadae, about B. C. 715." 

P. 62: Jean Dunois, comte d'Orleans et de Longueville, Grand 
Chamberlain of France, was his natural son by Mariette d'Enghien, 
wife of Aubert de Cany-Dunois, and is famous in history under the 
name of the Bastard of Orleans. Born at Paris 1402; died 1468. 
Distinguished himself at the sieges of Montargis and Orleans (where 
he was seconded by Jeanne d'Arc) and in many other encounters. 
The gallant champion of Charles VII. and the great enemy of the 

P. 65. Henri III., 1574-1589, last king of the House of Valois; 
succeeded Charles IX. 

P. 65: Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy, surnamed Tete de 
fer. He had married Marguerite, sister of Henri II. It was during 
this journey that the Duchess Marguerite tried to obtain from her 
nephew Henri III. the retrocession of several fortresses which France 
still held. (Litta, t. VI., tav. xiv.) 




P. 66: Sainte-Soline abandoned Strozzi at the battle of the lies 
Ter Terceres. 

P. 67. Capaneus was one of the mythical seven heroes who marched 
from Argos against Thebes (Aeschylus, Septem contra Thebas). 
"During the siege, he was presumptuous enough to say, that even 
the fire of Zeus should not prevent his scaling the walls of the 
city; but when she saw his body was burning, his wife Euadn6 
leaped into the flames and destroyed herself." 

P. 67: Alcestis was a daughter of Pelias, and the wife of Admetus, 
King of Pherae in Thessaly. According to the legend, Apollo having 
induced the Fates to promise Admetus deliverance from death, if 
at the hour of his decease his father, mother or wife would die for 
him, Alcestis sacrificed herself for her husband's sake. But Heracles 
brought her back again from the underworld, and "all ended well." 
The story is the subject of Euripides' beautiful play of Alcestis. 

P. 68: Tancred, one of the chief heroes of the First Crusade, was 
the son of Odo the Good, of Sicily. Date of his birth is uncertain; he 
died 1112. Type of the gallant soldier and adventurer and the 
"very perfect, gentle knight." 

P. 68: Philippe I. 1060-1108. 

P. 68: See Guillaume de Tyr, liv. XI., who tells this anecdote 
about Tancrede. Bertrade d'Anjou, the wife of Foulques, had been 
carried off by Philip I., to whom she bore, among other children, 
Ccile, who married Tancrede. 

P. 68: Compare this Albanian savagery with the story of Council- 
lor Jean Lavoix, who lived with the wife of an attorney named 
Boulanger. The wife having decided to discontinue that liaison, the 
Councillor grew so furious that he caused her to be slashed and dis- 
figured, although he could not get her nose cut off. He was pardoned 
after having paid his judges. The following song was written about 

Chasteauvillain, Poisle et Levois, 

Seront jugez tous d'une voix 

Par un arrest aussi leger 

Que fust celluy de Saint-Leger. 

Car le malheur est tel en France 

Que tout se juge par la finance. 

(Bib. Nat, ms. francais, 22563, f 101.) 




P. 70: See the Annales d'Aquitaine, f 140 v. Jeanne de Mon- 
tal, married to Charles d'Aubusson, lord of La Borne. This Charles 
had had a liaison with the prioress of Blessac, who bore him four 
children. He was tried for theft and robbery in the convents of his 
vicinity, and hanged, February 23, 1533. (Anselme, t. V., p. 335.) 
A genealogy by Pierre Robert states precisely what Bran tome re- 
cords here. 

P. 70: See Brantdme in the Lalanne edition, t. VIII., p. 148. 
There must be some mistake here. Jacques d'Aragon, the titular king 
of Majorca, died in an expedition in 1375, according to the Art d 
verifier let dates. 


P. 70: Charles VII. (surnamed the Victorious), crowned at Poitiers 
1422, consecrated at Rheims 1429; died 1461, the King for whom 
Jeanne d'Arc fought against the Burgundians and English, and 
who really owed his crown to her. 

P. 70: Francis I., 1515-1547. 

P. 70: Jeanne I., Queen of Naples, 1353-1381, daughter of Charles 
Duke of Calabria and grand-daughter of the wise King Robert of 

P. 72: The proverb says, the ferret. It should be the ermine, which 
animal is said to allow itself to be caught rather than soil itself. 

P. 72: The opinion that the female ferret would die if it did not 
find a male to satisfy her during the mating season was still held by 
naturalists at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Lalanne is 
mistaken about the ermine, which, on the contrary, dies of the 
slightest contamination: 

Et moi, je suis si delicate 
Qu'une tache me fait mourir. 

(Florian, Fables, liv. III., fab. xiii.) 

P. 78: Nouvelle III. 

P. 78: Unhappy husbands were classified as follows: 

Celluy qui, marie, par sa femme est coqu 

Et (qui) pas ne le scait, d'une corne est cornu. 




Deux en a cestui-la qui peut dissimuler; 

Qui le voit et le souffre, icelluy trois en porte; 

Et quatre cestui-la qui meine pour culler 

Chez lui des poursuivans. Cil qui en toute sorte 

Dit qu'il n'est de ceux-la, et en sa femme croid, 

Cinq cornes pour certain sur le front on lui void. 

(Bib. Nat., ms. franais 22565, f 41.) 

P. 79: It was the marriage of Marguerite of France, the Duchess 
de Savoie, to Emmanuel PhUibert, the Duke de Savoie, which caused 
the army to grumble. 

P. 79: Boccaccio, Seventh tale of the second day. 

P. 79 : Brantome alludes here most likely to Marguerite of France, 
sister of Henri II., who was 45 when she married the Duke of 

P. 80: Mile, de Limeuil was the mistress of the Prince de Cond6. 
During the journey of the court at Lyons, in July, 1564, she was con- 
fined in the cabinet of the queen mother, who was so furious that she 
had her locked up in a Franciscan monastery at Auxonne. But the 
Confession de Sancy and several authors of that time differ from 
Brantome in saying that the child was a son and not a daughter, and 
died immediately after birth. The Huguenots wrote verses about 
the adventure; but the young lady nevertheless married an Italian, 
Scipion Sardini, for whom she soon forgot the Prince de Conde. 
Mile, de Limeuil called herself Isabelle de La Tour de Turenne, and 
was Dame de Limeuil. 

P. 81: Cosimo I, Duke of Tuscany. Besides, Pope Alexander VI. 
was also in a somewhat similar situation. 

P. 82: Ferdinand II., King of Naples, 1495-96. Died prematurely 
at the age of 26. Ferdinand II. married the sister of his father, the 
daughter of the king of Naples and not of Castile. 

P. 86: An ancient city of Italy. At the fort of Monte Cimino, 
in the Campagna 40 miles NN W. of Rome. 

P. 86: La Nanna by Aretino, in the chapter on married women, 
tells of similar practices of deception regarding the virtue of newly 
married women. 




P. 89: Henry IV. of Castile, 1454-1474, a feeble and dissipated 
Prince, was a brother of Isabelle of Castile. The young man chosen 
was not a nobleman, but simply an Antinous of negligible origin 
whom the king created Duke d' Albuquerque. A child, Jeanne, was 
born of this complacent match, but she did not reign. Castile pre- 
ferred Henri III.'s sister, Isabelle. 

P. 89: Fulgosius (Battista Fregose), born at Genoa 1440, of a 
family famous in Genoese history, and for a time Doge of his native 
City. His chief Work, Factorum et Dictorum Memorabilium libri 
IX. (Memorable Deeds and Words, 9 bks.), has been more than 
once reprinted. This particular statement is to be found in ch. 3. of 
Bk. IX. 

P. 91: We have here, perhaps, a discreet allusion to Henri IV.'s 
passion for Mile, de Tignonville, who had been unmanageable until 
she married. (See the Confession de Sancy, and t. II., p. 128, of the 
Journal de Henri 7/7.) 

P. 94: Francois de Lorraine, Due de Guise, who was killed by 

P. 96: The famous Diane de Poitiers, eldest daughter of Jean de 
Poitiers, Seigneur de St. Vallier, belonging to one of the most 
ancient families in Dauphine, was born 1499. At the age of 13 she 
was married to Louis de Breze, Comte de Maulevrier, Grand Senes- 
chal of Normandy. She became a widow in 1531. The story of 
Francois I. having pardoned her father at the price of her honour, 
as told by Brantome and others, is apparently apocryphal. It was 
not till after the death of her husband, to whom she was faithful 
and whose name she honoured, that she became the mistress of 
Francois I. She was as renowned for her wit and charms of mind 
as for her beauty. Died 1566. 

P. 96: M. de Saint- Vallier, father of Diane de Poitiers. It is not 
known whether he uttered the word, but his pardon came in time. 
The headsman had already begged his pardon, according to custom, 
for killing him, and was about to cut his head off when a clerk, 
Mathieu Delot, rose and read the royal letter which commuted the 
capital sentence to imprisonment. The letter is dated February 17, 
1523. (Ms. Saint-Germain, 1556, f 74.) 

P. 97: Duke d'Etampes, chevalier of the order and governor of 




Brittany, an obliging and kind husband. Francois de Vivonne, lord 
of La Chasteigneraie, was among the least meek-minded of the court. 
Princess de La Roche-sur-Yon having stupidly asked him one day 
for a domestic favor, he called her "a little muddy princess," which 
afforded King Francis I. no little laughter. He was killed by Jarnac 
in a famous duel. 

P. 98: An allusion to the demon who threw to the ground the 
archangel Saint Michael, and who was represented on the collar of 
the order. It is rather difficult to know of which lady Bran tome 
is speaking here: the collar of Saint Michael had been given to so 
many people that it was called "the collar for all animals." (Castel- 
nau, Memoires, I., p. 363.) 

P. 99: Where did Brantome get this story? Gui de CMtillon had 
expended on banquets the greater part of his fortune and sold his 
county to Louis d'Orleans; the latter was merely seventeen at the 
time. It is difficult to admit that he could have carried on a liaison 
with a woman so ripe in years. After the death of Gui, Marguerite 
married an officer of the Duke d'Orleans. 

P. 101: Apparently Queen Marguerite de Valois. Marguerite de 
Valois, sister of Francois I., was born at Angouleme in 1492. Mar- 
ried in 1509 to Charles 4th Due d'Alen^on, who died (1525) soon 
after the disastrous battle of Pavia, at which Francois I. was taken 
prisoner. In 1527 she married Henri d'Albret, king of Navarre. She 
was a Princess of many talents and accomplishments, and the delight 
of her brother Francois I., who called her his Mignonne, and his 
Marguerite des Marguerites; Du Bellay and Clement Marot were 
both members of her literary coterie. Authoress of the famous 
Heptameron, or Nouvelles de la Reine de Navarre, composed in 
imitation of Boccaccio's Decameron. Died 1549. 

P. 101 : This is also an allusion to Queen Marguerite. Martigues, 
one of her lovers, had received from her a scarf and a little dog which 
he wore at the tournaments. 

P. 103: Henri III., who had a short-lived affair with Catherine 
Charlotte de La Tremoille, the wife of Prince de Cond6. But the 
victory was too easy; the princess was quite corrupt. Later on, 
the king prostituted her with one of his pages, with whom she con- 
spired to poison her husband. The plot failed. When brought before 
the Court, she was pardoned; but a servant named Brilland was torn 



apart by four horses. It was also Henri III. who had debauched 
Marie de Cleves, the first wife of the same Prince de Cond6. 

P. 103: May very well refer to Henri de Lorraine, Due de Guise, 
assassinated at Blois. 

P. 103: Most probably refers to Marguerite de Valois, the king of 
Navarre, the Due d'Anjou and the St. Bartholomew. 

P. 105: Louis de Be>anger du Guasi, one of Henri III.'s favorites, 
assassinated in 1575 by M. de Viteaux. His epitaph is in the Manu- 
tcrit franqais 22565, f 901 (Bibliotheque Nationale). Brantdme, 
who boasts of being a swordsman, forgets that D'Aubigne was 
also one. 

P. 105: A small town of Brittany (Dep. Ille-et-Vilaine), 14 miles 
from St. Malo. Has a cathedral of 12th and 13th centuries; the 
bishopric was suppressed in 1790. 

P. 107: To take a journey to Saint-Mathurin was a proverbial 
expression which meant that a person was mad. Henri Estienne says 
that this is a purely imaginary saint; be that as it may, he was cred- 
ited with curing madmen, and the satirical songs of the time are full 
of allusions to that healing power. (See Journal de Henri III, 1720 
edition, t. II., pp. 307 and 308.) 

P. 108: Lalanne proves by a passage from Spartianus that this 
anecdote is apocryphal, or that at least Brantdme has embellished 
it for his own needs. (Dames, torn. IX., p. 116.) 

P. 108: Hadrian (P. Aelius Hadrianus), 14th in the series of 
Roman Emperors, A. D. 117-138, succeeded his guardian and kins- 
man Trajan. His wife, Sabina, here mentioned, was a grand-daughter 
of Trajan's sister Marciana. 

P. 109: Marcus Aurelius Antoninus ("The Philosopher") suc- 
ceeded Antonius Pius as Emperor in A. D. 168. Died 180. His wife 
Faustina (as profligate a woman as Messalina herself) was daughter 
of Pius. Author of the famous Meditations. His son Commodus, 
who succeeded him as Emperor, was a complete contrast in charac- 
ter to his father, being vicious, weak, cruel and dissolute. 

P. 109: Another embellished passage. Faustina had died before 



Antoninus Commodus was emperor. Moreover, she was only washed 
(sublevare, says the text) with the blood of the gladiator. (J. Capi- 
tolin, Marc-Antoine le Philosophe, Chap, xix.) 

P. 113: A discreet and veiled allusion to the amours of Mar- 
guerite de Valois and of the Duchess de Nevers with La M&le and 
Coconas. Implicated in the affair of Field Marshals de Cosse and 
de Montmorency, La Mole, a Provenyal nobleman, and Coconas, a 
Piedmontese, were beheaded on the square of Greve towards the end 
of April, 1574, and not killed jn battle as Brantdme tries to insinuate. 
The two princesses, mad with despair, transported the bodies in their 
carriages to the place of burial, at Montmartre, and kept the heads, 
which they had had embalmed. (MAmoires de Nevers, I., p. 75, and 
Le Divorce satirique.) 

P. 114: It is Philippe Strozzi, Field Marshal of France, who was 
born at Venice. Made lieutenant of the naval army in 1579 in order 
to further the pretensions of Antonio of Portugal, he was defeated, 
July 28, 1583, and put to death in cold blood by Santa Cruz, his rival. 
(Vie et mart . . . de Philippe Strozzi. Paris, Guil. Lenoir, 1608.) 

P. 119: Thomas de Foix, lord of L'Escu or Lescun, was the 
brother of Mme. de Chateaubriant, mistress of Francois !-. He was 
captured at Pavia and carried, mortally wounded, to the home of the 
lady of whom Brantome speaks. It was he who, by the surrender of 
Cremona in 1522, caused France to lose Italy. (Guicciardini, t. III., 
p. 473, Fribourg edition, 1775.) 

P. 120: Paolo Jovio, Dialogo delle imprese militari ed amorose, 
1559, p. 13. 

P. 120: Blaise de Montluc, author of the Commentaires, a diaboli- 
cal Gascon, made Field Marshal of France in 1574. The siege of La 
Rochelle, which is here mentioned, took place in 1573. For details 
on this personage, see the De Ruble edition of the Commentaires, 
1854-74, 5 vols. 

P. 120: Paulus Jovius (Paolo Giovio), Historian, was a native of 
Como; born 1483, died 1552. 

P. 122: In his Contre-Repentie (fol. 444, A. of his Works, 1576). 
Joachim du Bellay, the poet, was born about 1524 at Lire in Anjou, 
of a noble and distinguished family of that Province. After an 





unfortunate youth, his talents ensured him a welcome at the Court 
of Francois I. and his sister Marguerite de Valois, where he spent 
some years. Died young, after a life of ill health, in 1560. 

P. 122: Francis Rabelais was born about 1483 at Chinon in Tou- 
raine, where his father was an apothecary. After a stormy youth 
and some years spent as a Monk in more than one Monastery of 
more than one Order, and later wandering the country as a vaga- 
bond secular priest, he was admitted Doctor in the Faculty of 
Medicine at Montpellier. Countless stories of his pranks and ad- 
ventures are told, many no doubt mythical. He visited Rome as 
well as most parts of France in the course of his life. He died 
Cur6 of Meudon, about 1553. 

P. 123: Chastity-belts of this sort were already in use at Venice 
at the time. 

P. 123: There is in the Hennin collection of prints at the Bibli- 
otheque Nationale (t. III., f 64) a satirical print representing what 
Brantome relates here. A lady returns to her husband the key; but 
behind the bed, the lover, hidden by a duenna, receives from the 
latter a key similar to the husband's. This instrument of jealousy 
was the cingulum pudicitice of the Romans, the "Florentine lock" of 
the sixteenth century. Henri Aldegraver also engraved on the sheath 
of a dagger a lady who is adorned with a lock of this kind. (Bartsch, 
Peintre-Graveur, VIII., p. 437.) These refinements in jealousy as 
well as the refinements in debauchery (of which Brantome will speak 
later) were of Italian origin. (See on this subject La Description 
de Vile des Hermaphrodites, Cologne, 1724, p. 43.) 

P. 124: Lampride, Alexandre Severe, Chap. XXII. 

P. 125: Nicolas d'Estouteville, lord of Villeconnin, and not Ville- 
couvin, nobleman of the Chambre, died in Constantinople in February, 
1567. He had gone to Turkey to forget a disappointment in love 
or in politics. Here is his epitaph: 

Le preux Villeconin en la fleur de ses ans, 5 

Helas ! a delaisse nos esbatz si plaisans, 
Laissant au temple sainct de la digne Memoire 
Son labeur, son renom, son honneur et sa gloire. 

P. 127: Dr. Subtil, surname of J. Scott or Duns. 



P. 128: Saint Sophronie. 

P. 128: See De Thou liv. XLIX. There were, at the court of 
France, other women who had escaped from Cyprus and who scarcely 
resembled this heroine. Temoin de la Dayelle, of whom Brantdme 
speaks in the Dames illustres, in the chapter on the Medicis. (Jour- 
nal de Henri III,, 1720 edition, t. II., p. 142.) 

P. 132: Guillot le Songeur is, according to Lalanne, Don Guilan 
el Cuidador of the Amadis de Gaule. 

P. 132: "Guillot le Songeur," a name applied to any Pensive man, 
from the knight Julian le Pensif, one of the characters of the 
Amadis of Gaul. 

P. 136: Danae, daughter of Acrisius, King of Argos, who con- 
fined her in brazen tower, where Jupiter obtained access in the form 
of a golden shower. 

P. 137: An allusion to Duke Henri de Guise. His wife Catherine 
de Cleves had, in addition to her "bed lovers," many other intrigues. 
(See the Confession de Sancy, Chap. VIII., notes.) 

P. 138: Trajan (M.Ulpius Trajanus), Emperor A. D. 98-117. His 
wife Plotina, here mentioned, was a woman of extraordinary merits 
and virtues, according to the statements of all writers, with one ex- 
ception, who speak of her. She persuaded her husband to adopt 
Hadrian who became his successor; but Dion Cassius is the only 
author who says a word as to her intercourse with the latter having 
been of a criminal character, and such a thing is utterly opposed to 
all we know of her character. 

P. 141: This refers very likely to Brantome's voyage to Scotland. 
He had accompanied Queen Mary Stuart in August, 1561, at the 
time of her departure from France. Riccio, who was the favorite 
of "low rank," had arrived one year later; but Brantdme, who is 
relating something which happened a long time before, is not pre- 
cise: he is unquestionably responding to a request of Queen Catherine. 

P. 144: In this passage, where Brant&me cleverly avows his wiles 
as a courtier, he refers to the Queen of Spain, Elizabeth, the wife of 
Philip II. The sister of the princess was Marguerite, Queen of 
Navarre. The two young infantas, whose portraits are examined 




in detail, were: the first, Isabella Claire Eugenie (later married to 
Albert of Austria), who became a nun towards the end of her life; 
the other, Catherine, married Charles Emmanuel de Savoie in 1585. 
It is difficult to-day to see the resemblance of the two princesses to 
their father, in spite of the great number of portraits of all these 
personages; in fact, we can say that they were scarcely more beauti- 
ful than their mother. (Cf. the beautiful portrait in crayon of Queen 
Elizabeth at the Bibliotheque Nationale, Estampes Na 21, f 69.) 

P. 144: The two Joyeuses: M. du Bouchage, and a gay companion. 

P. 145: Marguerite de Lorraine, married to Anne (Duke) de 
Joyeuse, the favorite of Henri III. The sister-in-law of whom 
Bran tome speaks could be neither Mme. du Bouchage nor Mme. de 
Mercoeur, who were spared by the crudest pamphleteers; he un- 
doubtedly refers to Henriette, Duchess de Montpensier. 

P. 146: Francois de Venddme, vidam of Chartres? (See Ftenet, 
1729 edition, p. 345.) 

P. 148: Ariosto, Orlando furioto, canto V., stanza 57: 

lo non credo, signer, che ti sia nova 
La legge nostra . . . 

P. 149: How can Brant6me, who had friends in the Huguenot 
camp, deliberately relate such absurd tales? 

P. 150: There is a close likeness between this woman and the 
Godard de Blois, a Huguenot, who was hanged for adultery in 
the year 1563. 

P. 152: At that period several persons bore the name of Beauliea. 
Brantome may have in mind Captain Beaulieu, who held Vincennes 
for the Ligue in 1594. (Chron. Novenn. III., liv. VII.) The chief 
prior was Charles de Lorraine, son of the Duke de Guise. 

P. 154: The Comtesse de Senizon was accused of having contrived 
his escape, and brought to book for it. 

P. 155: According to his habit, Brantome disfigures what he 
quotes. Vesta Oppia alone has the right to the name of "good 




woman"; Cluvia was a profession-courtesan. (Cf. Livy, XXVI., 
Chap, xxxiii.) 

P. 156: This more human reason is probably truer than the one 
generally given of Jean's chivalrous conduct regarding his pledge. 

P. 156: Jean (surnamed le Bon), King of France, 1350-1364. 
Taken prisoner by Edward the Black Prince at the battle of Poitiers. 

P. 159: Proverb marking the small connection that often exists 
between gifts of body and good qualities of mind and character. 

P. 164: The quotation as given in the text is mutilated and the 
words transposed. It should read: 

"Si tibi simplicitas uxoria, deditus uni 
Est animus : 

Nil unquam invita donabis conjuge: vendes 
Hac obstante nihil ; nihil, haec si nolit, emetur." 

JUVEXAL, Sat. VI, 205 sqq. 

that is to say, "If you are attached solely and entirely to your wife, 
. . . you will not be able to give a thing away, or sell or buy a thing, 
without her consent." 

P. 164: They used to say of those Italian infamies: "In Spagna, 
gli preti; in Francia, i grandi; in Italia, tutti quanti." 

P. 164: Why not let Boccaccio have the responsibility of this 
baseness? (Decameron, Vth day, Xth story.) 

P. 168: Christine de Lorraine, daughter of Duke Charles, married 
to Ferdinand I. de Medici. This young princess had arrived in Italy 
adorned in her rich French gowns, which she soon cast off in favor 
of Italian fashions. This concession quickly made her a favorite. 
It was at the wedding of Christine that the first Italian operas were 
performed. (Litta, Medici di Firenze, IV., tav. xv.) 

P. 171: Brantome is very likely thinking of Princess de Conde, 
whom Pisani brought before the Parliament, which acquitted her. 

P. 174-175: Probably an allusion to Mme. de Sinners and not to 
Marguerite de Valois, as Lalanne thinks. More tenacious if not more 



constant than the princess, Louise de Vitry, Lady de Simiers, lost 
successively Charles d'Humieres at Ham, Admiral de Villars at 
Dourlens, and the Duke de Guise, whom she deeply loved and who 
gave her so little in return; this does not include Count de Radan, 
who died at Issoire, and others of less importance. When she reached 
old age, old Desportes alone remained for her. He had been her first 
lover, a poet, whom she had forgotten among her warriors; but it 
was much too late for both of them. 

P. 175: Brantdme is mistaken; it is Seius and not Sejanus. 

P. 177: Theodore de Beze, the Reformer; born at V&telais, in the 
Nivernais, 1519. Author, scholar, jurist and theologian. Died 1595. 

P. 178: All the satirical authors agree in charging Catherine 
de'Medici with this radical change of the old French manners. It 
would be juster to think also of the civil wars in Italy, which were 
not without influence upon the looseness of the armies, and, therefore, 
upon the whole of France. 

P. 179: It is the 91st epigram of Bk. I. 

P. 180: Isabella de Luna, a famous courtesan mentioned by Ban- 

P. 180: Cardinal d'Armagnac was Georges, born in 1502, who 
was successively ambassador in Italy and archbishop of Toulouse, and 
finally archbishop of Evignon. 

P. 181: Quotation badly understood. Crissantis, in the Latin 
verse, is a participle and not a proper noun. (Cf. Juvenal, sat. iv.) 

P. 181: FiUnes, from Philenus, a courtesan in Lucian. 

P. 181: The line should read, 

Ipsa Medullinae frictum crissantis adorat. 

P. 184: Bran tome seems to speak of himself; yet he might merely 
have played the side role of confidant in the comedy. 

P. 187: Brantome refers to the Dialogue de la beaute des dames. 
Marguerite d'Autriche is not (as he says) the Duchess de Savoie, 


ffi/iw^bwiMMU * ^VuvaiM 



who died in 1530, but the natural daughter of the Emperor; she 
married Alessandro de'Medici, and later Ottavio Farnese. 

P. 189: The famous Church of Brou, at Bourg, was built in 1511-36 
by the beautiful Marguerite of Austria, wife of Philobert II., le 
Beau, Duke of Savoy, in fulfilment of a vow made by Marguerite of 
Bourbon, her mother-in-law. It contains the magnificent tombs 
of Marguerite herself, her husband and mother-in-law. Celebrated 
in a well-known poem, "The Church of Brou," of Matthew Arnold. 

P. 190: Jean de Meung, the poet (nicknamed Clopinel on account 
of his lameness), was born at the small town of Meung-sur-Loire in 
the middle of the Xlllth Century. Died at Paris somewhere about 
1320. His famous Roman de la Rose was a continuation of an 
earlier work of the same name by Guillaume de Lorris, completed 
and published in its final form by Jean de Meung. 

P. 192: Twenty-sixth Tale. It is Lord d'Avesnes, Gabriel 

P. 194: Claudia Quinta (Livy XXIX, 14). 

P. 196: Plutarch, CEuvres melees, LXXVII, t. II., p. 167, in the 
1808 edition. 

P. 200: The vogue of drawers dated from about 1577; three years 
later the hoop was in great favor and served to do away with the 
petticoat. Brant6me probably means that the lady discards the petti- 
coat and wears the hoop over the drawers. 

P. 212: The pun on raynette and raye nette cannot be reproduced 
in English. 

P. 213: Etienne Pasquier, the great lawyer and opponent of the 
Jesuits, was born at Paris, 1529; died 1615. 

P. 213: Thibaut, sixth of the name, Comte de Champagne et Brie, 
subsequently King of Navarre, was born 1201. Surnamed Faie*r 
de Chansons from his poetic achievements. Brought up at the 
Court of Philippe-Auguste. The whole romance of his love for 
Queen Blanche of Castillo is apparently apocryphal; it rests almost 
entirely on statements of one (English) historian, Matthew Paris. She 
was 16 years older than he, and is never once mentioned in his poems. 



P. 213: E. Pasquier, (Euvres, 1723, t. II, p. 38. "Which of the 
two," says Pasquier, "brings more satisfaction to a lover to feel 
and touch his love without speaking to her, or to see and speak to her 
without touching her?" In the dialogue between Thibaut de Cham- 
pagne and Count de Soissons, Thibaut preferred to speak. 

P. 215: Brantome aims here at Queen Catherine de'Medici and 
her favorites. 

P. 215: Cf. Plutarch, De Stoicorum repugnant! is, c. xxi. 

P. 216: Id., Demetrius, cap. xxvii. Brantdme is mistaken; the 
woman in question was Thonis. 

P. 216: Eighteenth Tale. 

P. 216: The "wheel of the nose" was a sort of "mask beard" that 
women wore in cold weather; it was attached to the hood below 
the eyes. 

P. 220: It was Francois de Compeys, lord of Gruffy, who sold 
his estate in 1518 in order to expatriate himself. 

P. 221: It is not three but four S's that the perfect lover must 
carry with him, according to Luis Barabona (Lagrlmas de Angelica, 
canto IV.), and these four S's mean: 


These initial letters were much in vogue in Spain during the sixteenth 

P. 224: This story was popular in Paris; it was amplified and 
embellished into a drama and ascribed to Marguerite de Bourgogne. 
Was it not Isabeau de Baviere? 

P. 224: Isabeau, or Isabelle, de Baviere, wife of the half imbecile 
Charles VI. of France, and daughter of Stephen II., Duke of 
Bavaria, was born 1371; died 1435. Among countless other in- 
trigues was one with the Due d'Orleans, her husband's brother. 
One of her lovers, Louis de Boisbourdon, was thrown into the 
Seine in a leather sack inscribed Laisscz patter la justice du rot. 
The famous story of the Tour de Nesles seems mythical. 





P. 225: See under Buridan, in Bayle's Diet. Critique. Compare also 
Villon, in his Ballade of the Dames des Temps Jadit (Fair Dames 
of Yore) : 

Semblablement ou est la reine, 

Qui commanda que Buridan 

Fust jet6 en un sac en Seine? 

(Likewise where is the Queen, who commanded Buridan to be 
cast in a sack into the Seine?) 

P. 227: Plutarch, Anthony, Chap, xxxii. 

P. 229: Livy, lib. XXX., cap. xv. Appien, De Rebus punicis, 

P. 229: Joachim du Bellay, (Euvres pottiques, 1597. 

P. 229: La Vieille Courtisane ("The Old Courtesan"), fol. 449. 
B. of the (Euvres poet, of Joachim du Bellay, edition of 1597. 

P. 230: This pun is difficult to explain. 
P. 231: Lucian, Amours, XV. 

P. 235: Marguerite, wife of Henri IV., whose elegance drew from 
the old Queen Catherine this remark: "No matter where you may 
go, the court will take the fashion from you, and not you from the 

(Brantome, Eloge de la reine Marguerite.) 

P. 235: Brantome alludes to the Duke d'Anjou. 

P. 235: Jeanne de Navarre, wife of Philippe le Bel, King of 
France, daughter and sole heiress of Henri I. of Navarre, was born 
1272, died 1305 at the early age of 33. She was a beautiful and 
accomplished Princess, and the tales told by some historians reflecting 
on her character are apparently quite without foundation. 

P. 235: The Divorce satyrique attributes this contrivance to Queen 
Marguerite, who adopted it to make her husband, the King of Navarre, 
more deeply enamoured and more naughty. 

P. 236: These are taken from an old French book entitled: De la 



louange et beaute des Dames (" Of the Praise and Beauty of 
Ladies"). Francois Corniger has put the same into 18 Latin lines. 
Vencentio Calmeta has rendered them also into Italian verse, 
commencing with the words: Dolce Flaminia. 

P. 236: Pliny speaks of this Helen of Zeuxis. 

P. 237: Ronsard, (Euvres, 1584 edition, p. 112. It is a poem 
addressed to the famous painter Clouet, according to Janet, in which 
the poet sings the praises of his fair lady. This poem has more than 
one point in common with the present chapter of the Dames. 

P. 238: Marot had arranged this Spanish proverb into a qua- 
train, and at the time of the Ligue it was applied to the Infanta 
of Spain: 

Pourtant, si je suis brunette, 
Amy, n'en prenez esmoy, 
Car autant aymer souhaitte 
Qu'une plus blanche que moy. 

P. 239: Raymond Lulle was a native of Majorca, and lived 
towards the end of the thirteenth century: he was reputed to be a 
magician. The story that Brantome tells was taken from the 
Opuscula by Charles Bovelles, fol. XXXIV. of the in-4 edition of 
1521. The famous Raimond Lulle (generally known in England as 
Raimond Lully), philosopher and schoolman, was celebrated through- 
out the Middle Ages for his logic and his commentary on Aristotle, 
and above all for his art of Memory, or Ars Lulliana. He was 
born at Palma, the capital of Majorca, in 1235. He travelled in 
various countries, and died (1315) in Africa after suffering great 
hardships, having gone there as a missionary. 

P. 240: Or Charles de Bouvelles. His life of Raymond Lulle is a 
quarto, printed at Paris, and published by Ascencius. It is dated 
3rd of the Nones of December, 1511. Several other works by the 
same author are extant. 

P. 240: Arnauld de Villeneuve, a famous alchemist of the end of 
the thirteenth century; he died in a shipwreck, in 1313. 

P. 240: Oldrade, a jurist, was born at Lodi in the thirteenth cen- 
tury. His Codex de falsa moneta is not known. 




P. 242: Sisteron, in the Department of the B asses- Alpes, on the 
Durance. Seat of a Bishopric from the 4th Century down to 1770. 

P. 242: Aimeric de Rochechouart (1545-1582) was the bishop of 
Sisteron; he succeeded his uncle Albin de Rochechouart. As to the 
"very great lady," that applies to one of a dozen princesses. 


P. 244: Pliny, XXXIII., cap. iv. Brantdme is mistaken about 
the temple. 

P. 246: Claude Blosset, lady of Torcy, the daughter of Jean 
Blosset and of Anne de Cugnac. She married Louis de Montberon 
(in 1553), Baron de Fontaines and Chalandray, first gentleman of 
the king's bed-chamber. The beautiful Torcy, as she was called, had 
been presented to Queen Eleonor by Mme. de Canaples, the enemy 
of Mme. d'Etampes. 

P. 246: Hubert Thomas, Annales de vita Friderici II. Palatini 
(Francfort, 1624), gives no idea of this exaggeration of Queen 
Eleonor's bust, who was promised to Frederick Palatine. 

P. 248: Suetonius, Octccvius Augustus, cap. Ixix. 

P. 249: Henri de Lorraine, Due de Guise, nicknamed le Balafrt, 
born 1550. Murdered by the King's (Henri III.) orders at Blois 
in 1588. 

P. 249: Due d'Anjou, afterwards Henri III. 

P. 250: The personages in question are probably Bussy d'Amboise 
and Marguerite de Valois. 

P. 252: The king was Henri II., and the grand widow lady the 
Duchess de Valentinois. They thought it was due to a charm. 

P. 254: Pico della Mirandola, Opera omnia, t. II., liv. III., chap, 
xxii., in the 1517 edition. 

P. 254: Pico della Mirandola, one of the greatest of all the bril- 
liant scholars of the Renaissance, and so famous for the precocity and 
versatility of his talents, was born 1463. After completing his 
studies at Bologna and elsewhere, he visited Rome, where he 
publicly exhibited a hundred propositions De omni re gcribtii, which 



he undertook to defend against all comers. The maturity of his 
powers he devoted to the study of religion and the Platonic philos- 
ophy. He died 1494, on the day of Charles VIII.'s entry into 

P. 265: Ferdinando Francesco Avalos, Marquis de Pescaire, of a 
well-known Neapolitan family, began his career as a soldier in 1512 
at the battle of Ravenna. Distinguished himself by the capture of 
Milan (1521) and numerous other brilliant feats of arms. Took 
an important part in the battle of Pavia, where Francois I. of 
France was taken prisoner. Wounded in that battle, and died in 
the same year, 1625. His wife was the celebrated Vittoria Colonna. 

P. 257: Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews, Bk. XV., Chap, 
vii. Herod the Great; died B. C. 4. He put to death his wife 
Mariamne', as well as her grandfather and his own sons by her. 

P. 258: Shiraz, a town of Persia, capital of the Province of Pars, 
famous for its roses, wine and nightingales, sung by the Persian 
poets Hafiz and Saadi. 

P. 258: Plutarch, Alexander, Chap. XXXIX. 

P. 268: It is in his Observations de plusieurs singularity (Paris, 
1554) that Belon reports this fact. (Liv. III., chap, x., p. 179.) 

P. 261: The usual form is Ortiagon. The woman is the beautiful 
Queen Chiomara. (C/. Livy, XXXVIII., cap. xxiv., and Boccaccio, 
De Claris mulieribus, LXXIV.) Chiomara, wife of Ortiagon, King of 
Galatia, was taken prisoner by the Romans when Cn. Manlius Vulso 
invaded Galatia, B. C. 189. The story is told by Polybius (XXII., 21). 

P. 262: Suetonius, Ccesar, LI I. 
P. 263: Livy, XXX., cap. xv. 

P. 263: Plutarch, Cato the Elder. Brantdme attributes the anec- 
dote to Scipion. 

P. 265: Charles de Lorraine, Cardinal de Guise, known as Car- 
dinal de Lorraine, died in 1574. He played an important role at 
the Council of Trente. Brantome refers to the truce of Vaucelles 
between Henri II. and the Emperor, which Cardinal Caraffa had suc- 




ceeded in breaking in 1556. This passage had evidently been written 
before 1588, the year of the death of another Cardinal de Guise, the 
brother of Balafr6. 

P. 265: The beautiful Venitians are described by Vecellio as 
wearing exquisite gowns on holidays. (See Vecellio, Habiti antichi, 
Venice, 1590.) 

P. 266: This passage is not in the Dies geniales by Alessandro, 
but in Herodotus, II., chap. ix. 

P. 267: What Brantdme says of Flora is not true. The woman 
in question was not called Flora, but Acca Taruntia. 

P. 269: Pausanius, Suetonius, and Manilius have not written 
special works on women. Brantdme is no doubt referring to the 
anecdotes that are found in their works. 

P. 273: This princess was Catherine de'Medeci. 

P. 275: The same story has been told of Mademoiselle, cousin ger- 
man of Louis XIV., with this addition that she was in the habit of 
giving any of her pages who were tempted by her charms a few 
louis to enable them to satisfy their passion elsewhere. 

P. 276: Suetonius, Vitellius, cap. ii.: "Messalina petit ut sibi pedes 
praeberet excalceandos." BrantSme prefers to quote in his own 

P. 276: LVIIth Tale. 

P. 276: Undoubtedly the grand prior Francois de Lorraine, who 
accompanied Mary Stuart to Scotland ; however, D' Aumale and Reme" 
d'Elbeuf also accompanied her. 

P. 281: Philip II., of Spain, son of Charles the Fifth, born 1527; 
died 1588. The husband of Queen Mary of England. 

P. 282: Beatrix Pacheco was lady of honor to Eleonor d'Autriche 
prior to 1544 with several other Spanish ladies ; she became Countess 
d'Entremont through her marriage with Sbastien d'Entremont. Her 
daughter, the woman in question here, was Jacqueline, the second wife 




of Admiral de Coligny, against whom the enemies of her husband 
turned; she was not, however, beyond reproach. 

P. 284: The description which follows was textually taken by 
Brantome from account printed at Lyons, in 1549, entitled: "La 
magnificence de la superbe et triomphante entree de la noble et 
antique cite de Lyon faicte au tres-chrestien Roy de France Henry 

P. 286: Brazilian wood, known before the discovery of America. 
Br6sil is a common noun here. 

P. 287: The king's visit to Lyons took place September 18, 1548. 

P. 288: La volte was a dance that had come from Italy in which 
the gentleman, after having made his partner turn two or three times, 
raised her from the floor in order to make her cut a caper in the air. 
This is the caper of which Brantome is speaking. 

P. 288: Paul de Labarthe, lord of Thermes, Field Marshal of 
France, died in 1562. (Montluc, Ruble edition, t. II., p. 55.) 

P. 289: Scio (Chios) was the only island in the Orient where the 
women wore short dresses. 

P. 298: Suetonius, Caligula, XXV. "Caesonia was first the mis- 
tress and afterwards the wife of the Emperor Caligula. She was 
neither handsome nor young when Caligula fell in love with her; but 
she was a woman of the greatest licentiousness ... At the time he 
was married to Lollia Paulina, whom, however, he divorced in order 
to marry Caesonia, who was with child by him, A. D. 38. ... Caesonia 
contrived to preserve the attachment of her imperial husband down 
to the end of his life; but she is said to have effected this by love- 
potions, which she gave him to drink, and to which some persons 
attributed the unsettled state of Caligula's mental powers during the 
latter years of his life. Caesonia and her daughter (Julia Drusilla) 
were put to death on the same day that Caligula was murdered, 
A. D. 41." 

P. 299: The Emperor Caracalla (M. Aurelius Antoninus) was the 
son of the Emperor Septimus Severus and was born at Lyons, at the 


rr*i;^rviiy^ir/8tir/WMM^^ :.--- . - ,/-My*M r/wr?4Yir/*\ir*ir^v,r 


time his father was Governor of Gallia Lugdunensis. Caracalla 
(like Caligula) is really only a nickname, derived from the long 
Gaulish cloak which he adopted and made fashionable. Reigned 
from Severus' death at York in 211 to his own assassination in 217. 
His brother Geta was at first associated with him in the Empire. 
Him he murdered, and is said to have suffered remorse for the act 
to the end of his life, remorse from which he sought distraction in 
every kind of extravagant folly and reckless cruelty. 

P. 299: Spartianus, Caracalla, Chap. x. 
P. 300: This son was Geta. 

P. 301: Beatrix was the daughter of Count Guillaume de Tenda; 
to her second husband, Phillipe Marie Visconti, she brought all the 
wealth of her first husband, Facino Cane. In spite of her ripe years, 
Beatrix was suspected of adultery with Michel Orombelli, and Phil- 
lipe Marie had them both killed. As a matter of fact this was a 
convenient way of appropriating Facino Cane's wealth. 

P. 301: Collenuccio, liv. IV., anno 1194. 

P. 301: Filippo Maria Visconti; born 1391, died 1447. Last Duke 
of Milan of the house of Visconti, the sovereignty passing at his 
death to the Sforzas. 

P. 301: Facino (Bonifacio) Cane, the famous condot.tiere and des- 
pot of Alessandria, was born of a noble family about 1360. The prin- 
cipality he eventually acquired in N. Italy embraced, besides Ales- 
sandria, Pavia, Vercelli, Tortona, Varese, and all the shores of the 
Lago Maggiore. Died 1412. 

P. 301 : Mother of Frederick II. 

P. 301: Pandolfo Collenuccio, famous as author, historian and 
juris-consult towards the end of the XlVth century. Born at Pesaro, 
where he spent most of his life, and where he was executed (1500) 
by order of Giovanni Sforza, in consequence of his intrigues with 
Caesar Borgia, who was anxious to acquire the sovereignty of that 

P. 302: Daughter of Bernardin de Clermont, Vicomte de Tallard. 





P. 302: Brantdme undoubtedly aims here at Marguerite de Cler- 

P. 303: Jean de Bourdeille. 

P. 303: Rene, daughter of Louis XII., married to the Duke of 
Ferraro. She was ungainly but very learned. 

P. 304: Marguerite d'Angouleme. 

P. 312: Meung-sur-Loire, dep. Loiret, on right bank of the Loire, 
eleven miles below Orleans. 

P. 312: Eclaron, dep. Maute-Marne. 

P. 312: Leonor, Duke de Longueville. 

P. 312: Francois de Lorraine, Duke de Guise. 

P. 313: Louis I., Prince de Cond6. 

P. 313: Captain Averet, died at Orleans in 1562. 

P. 313: Compare was the name King Henri II. gave the Constable 
de Montmorency. 

P. 316: Octamus is translated Octavie by Brant6me. Cf. Sueto- 
nius, Caligula, XXXVI., and Octavius Augustus, LXIX. 

P. 316: Suetonius, Nero, XXXIV. 

P. 318: Brantdme undoubtedly refers to Henri III. and to the 
Duke d'Alen^on, his brother. 

P. 319: Plutarch names this woman Aspasia and makes her a 
priestess of Diana. Cf. Artaxerxes-Mnemon, Chap. XXVI. 

P. 319: Collenuccio, liv. V., p. 208. 

P. 319: Artaxerxes I. (Longimanus), King of Persia for forty 
years, B. C. 465 to 425 ; he succeeded his father Xerxes, having put 
to death his brother Darius. 




P. 320: Wife of Francois d'Orldans. 

P. 320: Diane died at the age of 66, April 22, 1566; she was born 
in 1499. 

P. 320: Jacqueline de Rohan-Gi, married to Francois d'Or!6ans, 
Marquis de Rothelin. 

P. 321: Francois Robertet, widow of Jean Babou, whose second 
husband was Field Marshal d'Aumont. 

P. 321: Catherine de Clermont, wife of Guy de Mareuil, grand- 
mother of the Duke du Montpensier, Franois, surnamed the Prince- 

P. 321: Gabrielle de Mareuil, married to Nicolas d'Anjou, Mar- 
quis de Mzieres. 

P. 321: Jacqueline or Jacquette de Montberon. 

P. 321: Francoise Robertet, widow of Jean Babon de la Bour- 

P. 322: Paule Viguier, baronne de Fontenille. 
P. 322: Francoise de Longwi. 

P. 322: The praise of this Toulousean beauty is to be found in 
the very rare opuscule by G. Minot, De la beaute, 1587. 

P. 323: Anne d'Este. She was not exempt from the faults of a 
corrupt court. 

P. 323: This journey occurred in 1574. 


P. 323: Louis XII. 

P. 324: Jean d'O, seigneur de Maillebois. 

P. 324: It is not Francois Gonzagne, but Guillaume Gonzagne, 
his brother and successor to the duchy of Mantoue, born in 1538, 
died in 1587. 



P. 325: He returns here to the Duchess de Guise. 

P. 326: At the wedding of Charles Emmanuel, married to Cath- 
erine, daughter of Philip II. of Spain. 

P. 827: Marie d'Aragon, wedded to Alphonse d'Avalos, Marquis 
del Guasto or Vasto. 

P. 327: Henri II., son of Francis I., and husband of Catherine de 
Medici. Born 1518. Came to throne in 1547; accidentally killed in 
a tourney by Montgommeri 1559. 

P. 327: Paul IV. (of the illustrious Neapolitan family of Caraffa) 
was raised to the chair of St. Peter in 1558 ; died 1559. 

P. 327: This viceroy was Don Perafan, Duke d'Alcala, who en- 
tered Naples June 12, 1559. 

P. 328: Claude de Lestrange? 

P. 331: Brant&me's memory fails him. Of the two daughters of 
the Marquess, Beatrix, the first married Count de Potenza; the other, 
Prince de Sulmone. 

P. 336: His son was Francois Ferdinand, Viceroy of Sicily, died 
in 1571. 

P. 337: Soliman II. 


University of California 


405 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024-1388 

Return this material to the library 

from which it was borrowed. 



Book Slii 

UCLA-College Library 


L 005 663 902 4 







^ *C^I